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The Struggle 
for American Independence 

The Struggle 

American Independence 


Sydney George JFisher 

Author of u The Making of Pennsylvania," ** Men, Women, and Manners 

in Colonial Times,'* u The True Benjamin 

Franklin,'* etc. 


Vol. II. 

Philadelphia & London 

J. B. Lippincott Company 


Electrotyped and Printed by JT. JS. Lippincott Company 
J7/e Washington Square Pretts, Philadelphia, U. & A. 



























PORT 206 


















SETT BAY , 285 








































House in which Baroness Riedesel took refuge. From a picture in the 
collection of Mr. Julius F. Sachse of Philadelphia 98 

Surrender of Burgoyne from a sketch by a German officer. From the 
original in the collection of Mr. Julius F. Sachse of Philadelphia 102 

A call for Sailors for Paul Jones. From the copy in the collection of 
the Essex Institute at Salem, Mass 252 

Old Engraving of Gordon Riots in London 276 

Portrait of De Grasse. Engraved by Geoffroy; but whether it is any- 
thing of a likeness is not known. From the Bradford Club's " Opera- 
tions of the French Fleet under the Count de Grasse. " 480 

Old French Engraving of the Surrender of Cornwallis. From the col- 
lection of Mr. J. E. Barr, of Philadelphia 498 

Old French Engraving of the Siege of Fort St. Phillipe in Minorca. 
From the collection of Mr. J. E. Barr, of Philadelphia 508 

Old French Engraving of the Siege of Brimstone Hill, in St. Chris- 
topher. From the collection of Mr. J. E. Barr, of Philadelphia 512 

Old French Engraving of the Surrender of Admiral de Grasse, From 
the collection of Mr. J, E. Barr, of Philadelphia 518 


Map of the Battle of Brandywme 23 

Map of the Battle of Germantown 37 

Map of River Defences of Philadelphia 42 

Map of Burgoyne's Campaign 63 

Map of Clinton's Retreat across New Jersey 178 

Map of Admiral Howe's Defence of New York 208 

Map of the West Indies 224 

Map of British Occupation of South Carolina 374 

Map of the Wandering Campaign of Cornwallis 468 

The Struggle 


American Independence 



HOWE'S abandonment of New Jersey without a struggle 
and settling down quietly in New York until the end of May, 
astonished every one. Washington fully expected him to 
make some capital stroke during the winter. In fact, there 
were several obvious expeditions any one or all of which a 
vigorous general with such a large force at his command would 
have undertaken. 1 

He could have attacked the remains of "Washington's army 
at Morristown and captured or scattered it. He could have 
taken Philadelphia very easily in January when the upper 
Delaware was frozen. He could have sent a force to the South 
to take Georgia, as was done a couple of years afterwards by 
his successor, General Clinton. But Howe was interested in 
none of these warlike enterprises and went to sleep for the 
whole winter, like a bear. 

The huge armada which had been sent across the ocean to 
conquer America had, in the hand of its general, become worse 
than a failure. It was a farce. Boston had been abandoned 
in the first year of the war to gain New York, and an outpost 
at Newport in the second, leaving the rest of the country as 
independent as ever. The patriots could ignore the occupation 

1 Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. v, pp. 4, 5, 182. 
Vol. II 1 1 


of New York and go on conducting their national and com- 
mercial life independently of it. 

There was only one method of conquering America, the 
method which modern British generals have always had so 
clearly in mind; and that was to attack and utterly destroy 
the organized army of the enemy by defeating it in battle, 
relentlessly pursuing it, devastating the country which gave 
it support, capturing and imprisoning or executing the heads 
of the political party which directed the army and guided the 
sentiment of the people, capturing also large numbers of the 
patriot people themselves, destroying all their provisions and 
means of livelihood, and imprisoning the women and children 
to compel the submission of the men still at large. One can 
understand that such methods as these might have given Great 
Britain and the loyalists the military and political control of 
the Atlantic seaboard states, with the remnant of the patriot 
party seeking a precarious refuge in the western wilderness." 2 

But Howe pursued the reverse of this course. Instead of 
continuously following up the patriots and wearing them 
out, he gave them long periods of rest, for six or nine months, 
which exactly suited their purposes; for their militia would 
not keep the field continuously, and were willing to serve only 
for short periods and special occasions. 

In March Washington's force at Morristown, and its out- 
posts, had sunk to less than three thousand effectives, and 
Gordon gives his numbers as at times only fifteen hundred, 
all told, and relates a tradition that once when he could not 
muster more than four hundred he had to obtain patriot citi- 
zens of prominence to do duty as sentinels at his doors. Wash- 
ington expressed the greatest surprise that Howe took no 
advantage of this weakness. "All winter," he says, "we were 
at their mercy, with sometimes scarcely a sufficient body of 
men to mount the ordinary guards, liable at every moment to 
be dissipated, if they had only thought proper to march against 

* American Archives, fifth series, vol. iii, p. 1424. 



us." Washington thought that Howe must be ignorant of the 
real situation; and Boudinot gives a curious account of the 
efforts to deceive the British commander. 

Washington had spread out his men, two or three to a 
house all along the main roads for miles round Morristown, so 
that the country people got the impression that he was 40,000 
strong. The adjutant had in the pigeon holes of his desk what 
purported to be correct returns giving a force of 12,000. He 
invited to his office a person known to be a British spy, left 
him alone there for some time; and the copy of the returns 
which the spy took to New York is supposed to have con- 
vinced Howe that the patriot numbers were at least 
respectable. 3 

If he was really deceived in this way, with such ample 
opportunities to learn the real situation from the loyalists, it is 
very extraordinary. To the loyalists it seemed that the Ameri- 
can army was "mouldering away like a rope of sand." They 
could not understand why Howe did not sally out from New 
York and capture it, or if it should fly from him scatter it, 
break up its organization, destroy its supplies and baggage, 
and do this every time it came near him. To allow it to do as 
it pleased, disband itself and come together again within a few 
miles of him, was inexplicable. 

The patriot scouts and wandering parties were constantly 
picking off foragers and stragglers from the British posts at 
New Brunswick and Amboy; and Galloway remarked in one 
of his pamphlets, that they killed more regulars in that way 
than Howe would have lost by surrounding, assaulting or 
starving out the patriot force at Morristown. 

The thirteen states, except the towns of New York and 
Newport, were enjoying perfect independence and self-govern- 
ment and were as free from British or any foreign interference 

"Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. v, p. 264; vol. viii, pp. 
394, 502, 503, 504; Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. ii, 
pp. 422; Bancroft, "History of the United States," edition 1686, vol. r, 
p. 148; J. J. Boudinot, "Life of Boudinot," vol. i, pp. 72-74. 



as they are to-day. This, in itself, was a great advantage; 
for every month's and every day's enjoyment of independence 
deepened the love of it, and the determination to maintain it. 

In passing through New Jersey, the British and Hessians 
had committed many outrages on the inhabitants, without even 
distinguishing between patriot and loyalist. The people had 
generally remained in their, which was the invariable 
custom during the first three years of the Revolution, under 
the avowed policy of the Ministry not to devastate, but only 
to fight battles between organized forces. In fact, the non- 
combatant portion of the population often crowded round as 
spectators of many of the early battles. But the Hessians were 
great plunderers; their officers made no attempt to restrain 
them; and the British officers excused the crime by saying 
that it was the Hessian way of fighting. "When loyalists 
showed the protection certificates they had received from Gen- 
eral Howe, the Hessians could not read them. They went on 
with their robberies more vigorously than ever ; and the British 
soldiers not wishing to see the Hessians get all the booty, joined 
them in their crimes. A British officer after plundering a 
venerable blind gentleman of everything in his house, made 
sure of his own immortality by writing on the door: "Capt. 
Wills of the Royal Irish did this." 

These outrages were accompanied by a perfect carnival of 
rape, which so maddened the patriot farmers that they or- 
ganized themselves in small bands which watched for every 
British straggler or forager from Amboy and Brunswick and 
were not inclined to show much mercy. Impartial history, 
however, compels us to record that the patriot troops under 
Washington, being short of supplies of every sort, also took 
to indiscriminate plundering under the pretence that their 
victims were always loyalists. Between the depredations of 
the two armies there was something very like a reign of terror 
in New Jersey. The British were compelled to withdraw their 
small outposts from Elizabeth and Newark ; and Washington, 
after an order to stop his own men from plundering, issued 



a triumphant proclamation calling on all who had taken the 
British oath of allegiance or had certificates of protection, to 
deliver up the certificates and take the oath to the United 
States. 4 

It was a time of triumph; and the patriots were so elated 
that they thought they might successfully attack the British 
army in New York. Possibly the southern troops had been 
gaining such success and prestige in New Jersey that the 
New Englanders felt that they also must do something for their 
reputations. Towards the end of January, about four thou- 
sand New England and New York militia under Generals 
Heath, Wooster, Parsons and Lincoln, camped before Fort 
Independence near Kingsbridge on the upper end of Man- 
hattan Island, and demanded its surrender. The fort might 
possibly have been carried by assault ; but Heath was too cau- 
tious and after some ten days of threatening and capturing of 
loyalists and their property in the neighborhood, he withdrew. 3 

At sea in their privateering and naval ventures this spring, 
the patriots were very successful. The great fleet of mer- 
chantmen that annually sailed from England's important 
colony of Jamaica, had been delayed by the discovery of a 
conspiracy among the negroes of that island. When they 
finally sailed the vessels were scattered by a storm and in their 
isolated defenceless condition fell an easy prey to the Ameri- 
can rovers. Our privateersmen could now sell their prizes 
openly in the French and Spanish ports of the West Indies and 
also in the European ports of those nations by having the sale 
take place just outside of the harbor. There never has been a 
time since then when the great powers of Europe were so 
hostile to England and so willing to take action against her in 
every possible way. No other independence-loving people re- 
sisting the British empire have ever had the advantage of 

* American Archives, fifth series, vol. iii, pp. 1188, 1376, 1487; 
Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. ii, p. 414. 

"Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. v, pp. 178, 191, 206, 
214, 217; Gordon, "American Revolution," pp. 419, 420; Heath, Memoirs, 
pp. 99-105. 



being able to fit out hundreds of privateers and sell their 
prizes in European ports. 

In March, 1777, Howe aroused himself sufficiently to allow 
Colonel Bird to go up the Hudson to Peekskill with some five 
hundred troops, drive out the Americans under McDougall and 
burn the patriot magazines and storehouses containing im- 
mense supplies of provisions and military equipment. Wash- 
ington had given special warning not to leave depots of val- 
uable material near to navigable water ; and it was strange that 
the British had left Peekskill so long unmolested. 7 

In this same month the ceremony of conferring on General 
Howe the Order of the Bath given him in England for the 
victory at Long Island, was performed in New York, possibly 
the only occasion when this foreign order was ever conferred 
upon any one on American soil. Judge Jones sarcastically 
described it as, 

"A reward for evacuating Boston, for lying indolent upon Staten 
Island for near two months, for suffering the whole rebel army to escape 
him upon Long Island, and again at the White Plains; for not putting 
an end to rebellion in 1776, when so often in his power; for making such 
injudicious cantonments of his troops in Jersey as he did, and for 
suffering 10,000 veterans under experienced generals, to be cooped up in 
Brunswick, and Amboy, for nearly six months, by about 6,000 militia, 
under the command of an inexperienced general." (Jones, "Revolution 
in New York," vol. i, p. 177.) 

In April Howe showed no signs of breaking his repose in 
New York ; but Cornwallis, who commanded the posts at Amboy 
and New Brunswick, became at last aware that he had close 
at hand an opportunity for avenging Princeton. Some five 
hundred patriots under General Lincoln were encamped in a 
very exposed position at Bound Brook; and at daybreak on 

"Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. ii, p. 433 ; Hted- 
man, "American War," vol. i, p. 259. 

T Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. v, p. 297 note; Jones, 
" New York in the Revolution," vol. ii, p. 177 ; Gordon, " American Revolu- 
tion," edition 1788, vol. ii, p. 423; Stedman, "American War" vol i 
p. 278. ' 



the 13th of April, Cornwallis with 2000 men had advanced with- 
in two hundred yards and had begun to surround them before 
they discovered their danger. Lincoln had just time to leave 
his house before the enemy entered it; but he succeeded in 
rushing out his whole force between the two columns of the 
British before they closed on him. He lost three pieces of 
artillery and sixty men; but the most serious loss was his 
papers which furnished the enemy with valuable information. 
All things considered, however, he was very lucky, and noth- 
ing but his alertness saved the whole command from capture. 8 

A few days afterwards Howe sent Governor Tryon and two 
thousand men to follow up the success of the Bird expedition, 
and seize a depot of patriot supplies at Danbury, Connecticut. 
Tryon, who was accompanied by Generals Agnew and Erskine 
to supply him, it is said, with military knowledge, landed on 
the shore of Long Island Sound between Fairfield and Norwalk, 
successfully reached Danbury twenty-three miles in the interior 
and destroyed hundreds of tons of provisions. 

The Bird expedition had been entirely by water and on 
that account was easily successful. But it was a question 
whether a raid far into the interior like this Danbury enter- 
prise could be safely conducted. The test of the enterprise 
would come on the return over that twenty-three miles to 
their ships in the sound. 

The patriot militia were assembling from the neighboring 
country and Generals Wooster and Arnold, now returned from 
their adventures in Canada, were in command. "Wooster with 
about two hundred men attacked the rear of the British as 
they returned, and succeeded in taking about forty prisoners ; 
but was mortally wounded. Arnold in his heroic manner got in 
front of the enemy, and entrenched himself with five hundred 
men across the road with his right covered by a barn and his 

8 Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. ii, p. 462; G. W. 
Greene, "Life of Nathanael Greene," vol. i, p. 362; Boudinot's Journal, 
p. 66; J. J, Boudinot, " Life of Boudinot," vol. i, p. 50. 



left by a ledge of rock. There was a close action for some 
minutes, but the British got possession of the ledge of rocks 
and Arnold's men were forced to retreat. 

A whole platoon of regulars fired at Arnold within thirty 
yards and, as usual with English marksmen, every ball missed 
its aim except one which killed his horse. As Arnold fell with 
the horse he drew his pistols from the holsters, shot the first 
soldier that ran up to bayonet him, and escaped. 

It was a question now whether the retreat would be a dis- 
astrous one like that from Lexington and Concord, when the 
British were pursued and slaughtered all the way back to 
Boston. But the British officers had learned something. They 
followed a ridge of hills where they could not be ambuscaded, 
or fired upon from stone walls; and although the Americans 
followed and used artillery, Arnold's utmost exertions could 
make no great impression. The British easily escaped to their 
ships and by their own account their losses were trifling. 9 

In May the Connecticut patriots saw a chance to be 
revenged for this Danbury expedition. General Parsons or- 
ganized an attack upon a British foraging party which had 
ventured out to Sag Harbor at the extreme eastern end of Long 
Island, and was protected by part of DeLancey's regiment 
of loyalists. The command of the patriot expedition was given 
Colonel Jonathan Meigs, who had served with Arnold in the 
attack on Quebec. Meigs started from New Haven and 
crossed the sound with about one hundred and seventy men 
in whaleboats, arrived near Sag Harbor on the evening of 
the 23rd of May, and made a night attack at two o'clock in 
the morning. DeLancey's loyalists were completely taken by 
surprise, and all but six of them were captured. Without 
having lost a man Meigs destroyed all the forage, brigs and 
sloops with a large quantity of supplies. In going and coming 

Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. ii, p. 463; Jones, 
"New York in the Revolution," vol. i, p. 178; Writings of Washington, 
Ford edition, vol. v, pp. 346 note, 439; Stedman, "American War," vol. i, 
p. 279. 



he had covered a distance of nearly one hundred miles in 
eighteen hours. 10 

It was evidently unsafe for Howe to have any weak out- 
lying posts or foraging parties. His successor, Clinton, avoided 
having any of these outposts; but conducted many raids like 
that of Tryon to Danbury. 

10 Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. v, p. 398; Gordon, 
" American Revolution," edition 1788, vol ii, p. 468 ; Jones, " New York in 
the Revolution/' vol. i, pp. 180, 183, 184; Stedman, "American War," 
p. 282. 



IN the spring of 1777 the first assistance from France 
arrived at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and consisted of 
several cargoes of powder, cannon, muskets, clothes, and shoes 
sufficient for 25,000 troops. This had been sent out in secret 
by the French Government through the brilliant and adven- 
turous Beaumarchais, the young watch-maker, writer of plays, 
and intimate friend of the daughters of the King, who had 
established what in appearance was the mercantile house of 
Roderigue Hortalez & Company. Furnished with money by 
the French Government and allowed to take from the French 
arsenals supplies in small quantities at a time so as not to 
attract attention, he was able to send across the ocean, ap- 
parently as a private merchant, the commodities most needed 
by the patriot Americans. To hoodwink the British and carry 
on this romantic sort of business for more than a year would 
seem to be a chimerical sort of project, and yet it was 

He was to be paid for the supplies by return cargoes of 
tobacco and provisions furnished by the Congress, which had 
no specie money, but could obtain articles like tobacco and $our 
by purchase with paper money or as gifts from the States as 
their contribution to the cause. But letters from Arthur Lee 
led the Congress to suppose that the Beaumarchais cargoes 
were gifts, and the Congress became short in payment to him 
in some 3,000,000 francs, which was not finally settled until 
1835 by an allowance of 800,000 francs to his daughter. 1 

1 Lomenie, "Life of Beaumarchais;" Durand, "New Material for 
History of American Revolution," pp. 107, 151, 156; Still6, "Beau- 
marchais and the Lost Million." 



In May, 1777, Washington thought that General Howe 
would surely begin some active campaigning; and he accord- 
ingly left Morristown and placed the patriot force in a strong 
position some ten miles from New Brunswick at Middlebrook, 
whence he could follow and annoy any British force that might 
march towards Philadelphia. 

The patriot soldiers were slowly returning from their 
homes and again joining the army ; but there were as yet very 
few of them. In one sense this made little difference, for on 
the first of June Howe was waiting for the arrival of tents and 
field equipage, and had shown no signs of stirring from New 
York. On the 13th, however, he landed a force of eleven 
thousand men in New Jersey, provided with boats and rafts, 
as if he intended to march to the Delaware and so cross to 
Philadelphia. But he advanced only a few miles beyond New 
Brunswick, where he occupied a position about nine miles in 
length from Somerset Court House to Middle Bush, and he 
strengthened this line with redoubts. As he left all his boats 
and heavy baggage in New Brunswick, Washington judged 
that he had no intention of forcing his way towards Phila- 

This movement by Howe into New Jersey became the subject 
of much discussion in England, and his purpose and motives 
were severely criticised. Washington believed that his object 
was to destroy the American army, which was now seven 
thousand strong, and with that disposed of cross the Delaware 
and reach Philadelphia. He could more easily have destroyed 
the American force during the winter. Even now its seven 
thousand men were no match for his eleven thousand regulars 
in the open field. But entrenched in the strong position in 
which Washington had placed them, the patriot troops, if at- 
tacked, would have inflicted a heavy Bunker Hill loss on their 

Washington expected such an attack and supposed it would 
be made on his right flank, which was his weakest point. Howe 
was unsparingly denounced by his military critics, especially 
Galloway and Stedman, for not making this attack, which they 



said would have been surely successful and well worth the 
heavy loss he would have sustained. If he had not men enough 
with him he could have brought more from New York to ac- 
complish such an important object. 

In defending himself from this charge, Howe simply said 
that he considered it inadvisable to attack Washington. "I 
must necessarily have made a considerable circuit of the 
country, and having no prospect of forcing him, I did not think 
it advisable to lose so much time as must have been employed 
upon that march, during the intense heat of the season." 

Why then was he out there in New Jersey in "the intense 
heat of the season " with an army of eleven thousand men for 
two weeks? Merely, it seems, to see if Washington could be 
persuaded to attack him. He made the movement, he says, 
"with a view of drawing on an action if the enemy should 
have descended from his post, and been tempted towards the 
Delaware, in order to defend the passage of the river on a 
supposition that I intended to cross it." 2 

It is strange that he should have supposed Washington to 
be a man of such poor judgment. But Howe's reasons and 
explanations are always hard to understand. He remained in 
his strong position between Somerset Court House and Middle 
Bush for five days, and then returned with his army to New 
Brunswick and Amboy. Washington was at a loss to account 
for this move, but thought that possibly Howe had been led to 
abandon the attack by hearing that the New Jersey militia were 
rallying to the American army in larger numbers than had 
been expected. 

Light troops of Greene's and Wayne's brigades with Mor- 
gan's riflemen followed Howe in his retreat; and Washington 
; at first thought that they had not been able to inflict any 
damage of consequence. But he afterwards reported that the 
British loss was considerable and that they had not suffered 
so severely since the Battle of Princeton. 

Although the intentions of the British commander seemed 

8 Howe's "Narrative/' pp. 15, 16. 



obscure, his manoeuvres were so harmless that Washington 
moved nearer to him and took post at Quibbletown. Howe sent 
all his heavy baggage over to Staten Island, followed by a 
considerable number of troops, as if he were giving up the 
game. But the next day his troops all returned and he marched 
suddenly from Amboy into New Jersey in two columns, with 
the apparent intention, as Washington supposed, to cut off 
Stirling's division and gain the high ground on the American 
left. This movement was partly successful, for Stirling's 
division was nearly cut off and lost some of its artillery. But 
Washington's main force retreated to the high ground. Both 
sides claimed the advantage. The loss in Stirling's division 
was not considered serious by the patriots and they believed 
that the British lost heavily in the skirmishing. 

Howe, in his "Narrative," insisted that he had outwitted his 
enemy. But it was a very trifling advantage he had gained 
with eleven thousand against seven thousand. He remained 
on the ground one day, and then, returning to Amboy, he 
evacuated New Jersey entirely, and never entered it again. 
On the 30th of June, after his "two weeks fooling in New 
Jersey," as it was called in England, all his troops were taken 
over to Staten Island, and to the amazement of every one he 
began loading them on transports as if to leave America. 3 

People in England were the more impatient with Howe 
because they expected the campaign of this year 1777 to be a 
very decisive one, which would make up for Trenton and 
Princeton and all the shortcomings of 1776. The Ministry 
were preparing to support Howe by an expedition sent down 
the Hudson from Canada which should meet at Albany a force 
under Howe coming up from New York. The water highway 

'Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. v, pp. 436, 439, 440, 
444, 445, 448, 450, 452-455. See also Galloway, "Letters to a Nobleman," 
&c., pp, 62, 67; " Remarks on General Burgoyne's State of the Expedition 
from Canada," p. 39, London, 1780; Stedman, "American War/' yol. i, p. 
238; Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. ii, pp. 469-474; 
"Life of George Reed," p. 268; Graham, "Life of General Morgan," 
p. 124; Drake, "Life of General Knox," p. 44. 



of the Hudson and Lake Champlain was to pass over to British 
control throughout its whole length and the rebellious colonies 
were to be cut in half and prevented from supporting one 

As the plan was worked out, two expeditions were to come 
from Canada ; one under Burgoyne was to come straight down 
by way of Lake Champlain, and a smaller force under St. 
Leger was to go up the St. Lawrence to Lake Ontario as far 
as Oswego, capture Fort Stanwix, and sweep down the Mohawk 
Valley to reinforce Burgoyne at Albany. New York being 
peopled only along the lines of the Hudson and Mohawk 
Valleys, these two expeditions, reinforced by Howe from below, 
would be a complete conquest of New York. The plan also 
included an attack upon the coast of New England to prevent 
the militia and minute-men of that part of the country from 
being massed against Burgoyne as he came down from Canada. 

Howe had full information as to this plan, professed to 
approve of it, and, in his letter to the colonial secretary on 
the 9th of October, 1776, spoke of it as "the primary object." 
It was evidently necessary and vital that he should play his part 
in it with vigor, or there would be a wof ul disaster to the British 
arms and great encouragement to the rebellion, as well as 
encouragement to France to ally herself with the patriots. In 
a letter to the Ministry of the 30th of November, 1776, Howe 
shows how he will carry out his part of the plan by sending 
10,000 men to attack New England, 10,000 to go up the Hudson 
to Albany, and 8000 to make a diversion towards Philadelphia. 4 

This plan he gradually changed until nothing of it was left 
but the movement to Philadelphia. His reason for this change 
was that the Ministry would not send him sufficient reinforce- 
ments to carry out the plan. But this was hardly a sufficient 
excuse for refusing to send any assistance at all to Burgoyne. 
On the 5th of April, 1777, he wrote to Carleton in Canada that 
he would not assist Burgoyne, because it would be inconsistent 

4 Parliamentary Register, House of Commons, 1779, vol. xi, pp. 261, 
362; American Archives, fifth series, vol. iii, pp. 926, 1318. 



with other operations on which he had determined; that he 
would be in Pennsylvania when Burgoyne was advancing on 
Albany, and Burgoyne must take care of himself as best he 
could. 5 

A copy of this letter to Carleton was sent by Howe to the 
Ministry, and about a month afterwards the Ministry sent to 
Carleton instructions for sending Burgoyne to Albany, and 
directed that Burgoyne and St. Leger should communicate with 
Howe and receive instructions from him; that until they 
received instructions from him they should act as exigencies 
might require; "but that in so doing they must never lose 
sight of their intended junction with Sir William Howe as their 
principal object." 6 

A copy of these instructions from the Ministry to Carleton 
was sent to Howe for his guidance, and received by him on the 
5th of July, so that as commander-in-chief with discretionary 
power he was made aware of the whole situation, knew the 
wishes and plans of the Ministry, and on him was placed the 
responsibility of effecting or not effecting a junction with 
Burgoyne. 7 

In accordance with the instruction from the Ministry, Bur- 
goyne, before starting from England, wrote to Howe. He wrote 
to him again from Quebec, and again on the 2nd of July, when 
on his way down Lake Champlain, informing him of the nature 
of his expedition, that he was under orders to effect a junction, 
and that he expected support from the South. This letter of 
the 2nd of July Howe received on the 15th of July. 8 

In order that discretionary power and responsibility might 
be entirely cast upon Howe, Lord George Germain wrote to 
him, on the 18th of May, saying that the copy of Howe's letter 

8 Parliamentary Register, House of Commons, 1779, vol. xi, p. 389. 
*lUd., p. 404. 
7 Hid., pp. 405, 407. 

8 Cobbett, "Parliamentary History," vol. xx, pp. 786, 788, 798; 
Parliamentary Register, House of Commons, 1779, vol. xiii, pp. 92, 93, 




to Carleton changing the plan of a junction with Burgoyne 
had been received, and adding: 

"As you must, from your situation and military skill, be a com- 
petent judge of the propriety of every plan, his Majesty does not hesitate 
to approve the alterations which you propose; trusting, however, that 
whatever you may meditate, it will be executed in time for you to 
co-operate with the army ordered to proceed from Canada, and put itself 
under your command." (Parliamentary Register, House of Commons, 
1779, vol. xi, p. 416.) 

This letter was received by Howe on the 16th of August, 
and on the 30th of August he replied to it, saying that he 
would not be able to cooperate with Burgoyne. 9 The corre- 
spondence was now closed ; and this brief review of it may be 
of assistance in understanding the events which are to be 

On the 17th of June, when Howe was manoeuvring so 
strangely with Washington in New Jersey, Burgoyne started 
from Canada and began to fight his way down the lakes toward 
Albany. On the first of July, as we have just seen, Howe began 
to load his troops on transports; and the great question was 
what he would do next. 

The strategical importance of the line of the Hudson and 
Lake Champlain to Canada was so well known in America, and 
it was so well known that England attached great importance 
to it, that every one supposed that Howe would move up 
towards Albany to assist the Canada expedition. On the 2nd 
of July, Washington learned that this Canada expedition was 
moving on Ticonderoga ; and a few days afterwards he heard 
that Ticonderoga was taken. 10 This would seem to have been 
the nick of time for Howe to go to the support of Burgoyne ; but 
Howe's movements were uncertain tod mysterious. Sometimes 
he seemed about to go up the Hudson; at other times he 
appeared to be going into Long Island Sound to attack New 
England; and these uncertain movements continued during 

9 Parliamentary Register, House of Commons, p. 418. 

10 Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. v, pp. 459, 461, 462, 
467, 469, 472, 475, 501-503, 517, 520. 



nearly the whole month of -July. His troops during all that 
time were kept on board the transports ; and the whole fleet of 
nearly 300 vessels kept moving back and forth between New 
York and Sandy Hook. 

Washington felt sure that he must intend to assist Bur- 
goyne. It seemed impossible to think otherwise; impossible to 
suppose that his uncertain movements were anything but feints 
to cover his real design of effectually cooperating with the army 
from Canada. But, finally, after all his manoeuvring, Howe 
on the 24th of July, took his force of 18,000 men out to sea. 
Clinton was left in command of New York with the rest of the 
British army, consisting of about 6000, a force entirely inade- 
quate to hold New York and at the same time cooperate with 
Burgoyne and St. Leger. 

Just before sailing from New York, Howe sent a letter to 
Burgoyne which he carefully arranged should fall into the 
hands of Washington, for he gave it to be carried by a patriot 
prisoner, whom he released and gave a large sum of money, 
as if he really believed that such a person would prove a faith- 
ful messenger. In this letter he said that he was making a 
feint at sea to the southward, but that his real intention was 
to sail to Boston, and from there assist Burgoyne at Albany. 11 

The letter was itself a feint. Howe's ships disappeared in 
the hot July haze that overhung the ocean, and for a week 
nothing more was heard of him. A Connecticut newspaper 
printed an advertisement offering a reward for a lost general. 

Washington, who had separated his army into divisions for 
a rapid movement, now brought his force together at Coryeirs 
Ferry, on the Delaware above Trenton, prepared to move 
quickly either to the Hudson 01 to Philadelphia ; and he ordered 
careful watchers to be placed along the southern coast. He 
could not quite believe that Howe intended to abandon Bur- 

u Irving, "Washington," vol. iii, chap, xi; Marshall, "Washington," 
vol. iii, chap, iii; Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. v, p. 514. 
All of Howe's movements at this time will be found well described in 
Washington's Writings, Ford edition, vol. v, pp. 470, 522. See, also, 
Galloway, "Letters to a Nobleman," p. 73. 
Vol. II 2 17 


goyne. But on the 30th of July the people living at Cape 
Henlopen, at the entrance of Delaware Bay, saw the ocean 
covered with a vast fleet of nearly three hundred transports 
and men-of-war ; a beautiful but alarming sight as they sailed 
over that summer sea and anchored in the bay. 

"Washington now hurried his army to Philadelphia, and 
camped north of the town, near the Palls of the Schuylkill, on 
the line of what we have since known as Queen Lane, which 
runs into Germantown. This was the first appearance of the 
patriot army in mass at Philadelphia. Their sanitary arrange- 
ments, as Stewart's Orderly Book tells us, were particularly 
unfortunate on this occasion, and in that hot August weather 
a most horrible stench arose all round their camp. 12 

But within a day or two Howe sailed out of Delaware Bay. 
He decided, as he and his officers afterwards explained, that it 
was impracticable to go up the river to Philadelphia, because 
that city was defended by obstructions in the water, and the 
shores below were inconvenient for landing an army. Again he 
disappeared beyond the horizon, heading eastward, as if return- 
ing to New York with the intention of seizing the Highland 
passes on the Hudson and assisting Burgoyne by a sudden 

Washington was now completely puzzled. Unwilling to 
march his army in the torrid heat, he held it in the unsavory 
camp at Queen Lane until reflection and increasing anxiety 
compelled him to move again towards the Hudson. 

But he had not gone far when he was stopped by messen- 
gers. The people who lived by fishing and shooting wild fowl 
at Sinepuxent Inlet, below Cape Henlopen, had caught a 
glimpse one day of a vast forest of masts moving slowly to the 
southward, but quickly, as if conscious that they could be seen 
from the land, the masts disappeared again. 

That was stranger than ever ; and Washington thought that 
Howe might be making for Charleston, either to occupy it or to 
lead the patriot army into a long march in a hot and unhealthy 

* Pennsylvania Magazine of History, vol. xxii, p. 308. 



climate, and, having enticed them there, return quickly in his 
ships to any part of the middle or northern colonies, and easily 
and effectually cooperate with Burgoyne tod St. Leger. 13 

But it was not Charleston's turn. Howe's progress was 
now very slow, for he was beating against head- winds. At last, 
on the 21st of August, he was reported sailing up Chesapeake 
Bay, and then all was clear. He landed in the Elk Eiver, at the 
head of the bay, not far from the modern village of Elkton, then 
called Head of Elk. From there on the 8th of September he 
marched towards Philadelphia as a comfortable place in which 
to settle for the winter. 

In order to place himself beyond the possibility of assist- 
ing Burgoyne, he had made a circuitous voyage, of three hun- 
dred miles, which became a thousand, beating against the head- 
winds, and a march of fifty miles by land, to reach a place 
from which he was less than one hundred miles by land when 
he started. Every one was astonished. "When he was working 
his way up Chesapeake Bay and as far as possible from Lake 
Champlain, Burgoyne was meeting with his first reverses and 
lost the Battle of Bennington on the 16th of August. Every 
patriot was praying that Howe might live long to command the 
British armies. 14 

When it was known that he was about to land at the head 
of the Chesapeake, "Washington hurried across the country to 
place his army between the enemy and Philadelphia. On this 
march he paraded a large part of his force through Philadel- 
phia, coming down Front Street and marching out Chestnut 
Street and across the Schuylkill. He wished to encourage the 
patriots in the town by this display, and, as the loyalists had 
been saying that there was no patriot army, he would in this 
way impress its size upon them. 

The greatest pains were taken with this parade. Earnest 
appeals were made to the troops to keep in step and avoid 

18 Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, p. 46. 
"Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, p. 48; "Life of 
Timothy Pickering," p. 150. 



straggling. The axemen or pioneers headed the procession, and 
the divisions were well spread out, with fifes and drums- between 
them rattling away at marching tunes. To give some uniform- 
ity to the motley hunting-shirts, bare feet, and rags, every man 
wore a green sprig in his hat. The best-clothed men were the 
Virginians, and the smartest-looking troops were Small wood's 

But they all looked like fighting men as they marched by to 
destroy Howe's prospects of a winter in Philadelphia. With 
the policy Howe was consistently pursuing, it might have been 
just as well to offer no obstacle to his taking Philadelphia; He 
merely intended to pass the winter there as he had done in 
Boston and New York. But for the credit of the patriot cause 
and his own reputation, Washington had to do all in his power 
to stop him. It would not do to hang on his rear and flanks 
and annoy him in guerilla fashion. The patriots must fight a 
pitched battle, and in such a battle the chances were, of course, 
largely against them, for they had only eleven thousand badly 
equipped troops with which to oppose Howe's eighteen thousand 
regulars. 15 

It was about this time that the Marquis Lafayette, a youth 
of twenty years, joined the patriot army ; 16 and he gives us in 
his Memoirs a description, already quoted, of its ragged appear- 
ance and lack of drill and discipline. There were already some 
French officers in our army and many had offered themselves 
to our commissioners in France and had been sent out to 
America. Some of them travelled with a retinue of servants 
and stipulated for high rank and favorable conditions. Du 
Coudray insisted on the rank and pay of a major-general, to be 
second in command to Washington and to be pensioned for life. 
Lafayette, the best of them all, offered to serve entirely at his 
own expense and insisted on beginning as a volunteer. Talley- 

u Bancroft estimates Howe's force at over twenty thousand without 
counting the engineer corps. ("History of the United States," edition 
of 1886, vol. v, p. 175.) 

18 Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, p. 48. note. 



rand and other critics have described Lafayette as lacking in 
force of mind and ability. But he was eminently useful to the 
American cause. Washington was strongly attracted by his 
courageous and romantic disposition, and gave him every oppor- 
tunity to distinguish himself. 

He had off ered himself to our commissioners the year before 
in France. But immediately afterwards news arrived of Wash- 
ington 's defeat at Long Island and retreat across New Jersey. 
Our credit sank so low that the commissioners could not charter 
a vessel to take Lafayette to America, and they discouraged his 
going. But he said that now was the time for him to serve 
their cause when it was at its lowest ebb. He purchased and 
fitted out a ship for himself, and in spite of the protests of 
his family and the prohibition of the French Government, 
escaped to a Spanish port, from which he sailed for America. 17 

After a voyage of fifty-four days he reached the coast of 
South Carolina on the 13th of June, 1777 ; and, not knowing 
where they were, the ship anchored at the entrance of Winyah 
Bay, which leads up to Georgetown. Taking the ship's yawl 
and a crew to row, Lafayette penetrated into the bay until the 
tide turned against him, when negro oystermen took him into 
their sail-boat and at midnight landed him at Major Huger's 
summer residence. 18 

When the first alarm at what was thought to be a British 
raiding party was over, Lafayette was received with a southern 
welcome which he never forgot. He woke up next morning 
amazed and delighted with his strange semi-tropical surround- 
ings, the mosquito nets, the innumerable black slaves anxious 
to wait on him, and the ease and romance of the summer home 
of one of those planters of whom so much had been heard in 
Europe. The ardent young Frenchman was filled with enthu- 
siasm at this first sight of the continent of liberty. 19 

"On the general subject of foreign officers in the patriot army see 
Tower's " Lafayette ;" Wharton's Diplomatic Correspondence; Pontgibaud, 
" A Volunteer of the War of Independence," pp. 70, 195, 120, 202. 

18 Huger was a South Carolina Huguenot name pronounced Ugee. 

M Tower, "Lafayette in the American Revolution," vol. i, p. 171. 



He was no doubt a cheerful and refreshing addition to 
Washington's official family, as through the torrid heat of early 
September the army moved down towards Howe's army. 
Lafayette thought that Howe should have been attacked while 
he was landing. But he was at the same time obliged to admit 
that the patriot army was not well enough organized for 
a bold attack upon regulars and had better confine itself to 
fighting on the defensive. 

While Howe's army lay at the Head of Elk, through which 
the Pennsylvania Railroad from Philadelphia to Baltimore now 
passes, Washington, accompanied by Greene and JJafayette, 
with some aids went forward to reconnoitre. They reached the 
neighborhood of the British and rode up to the tops of Gray 
Hill and Iron Hill, the only two elevations in that generally 
level country. They could see nothing but a few tents in the 
distance and were returning when they were caught in a thun- 
der squall with heavy rain, which compelled them to seek 
shelter for the night in the farmhouse of a person who they 
afterwards learned was a loyalist. It was one of those curious 
circumstances which sometimes alter the course of history ; for 
the loyalist could have informed the British and Washington 
might have been captured exactly as Lee was taken the year 
before. The next morning, as they set spurs to their horses at 
the first break of day, Washington is said to have admitted that 
they had been very imprudent and had had a lucky escape. 
The narrowness of the escape seems to have become known and 
he received a friendly caution from Virginia to be more care- 
ful in the future. 20 

The British army started from the Head of Elk on the 8th 
of September and moved northward through a strongly loyalist 
region with patriot skirmishing parties annoying their flanks. 
Among these skirmishers was a young cavalry captain from 
Virginia, who distinguished himself for the first time by the 

ao Memoirs and Correspondence of Lafayette, London edition, 1837, 
vol. i, p. 20; G. W. Greene, "Life of General Greene," vol. i, p. 443; 
Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, pp. 53, 147. 

id Bank 

W ash i n gto n ' s Fort Miffltn 




number of prisoners he made. It was that accomplished officer 
who afterwards was known as Light Horse Harry Lee, a brother 
it was said, of an old sweetheart of Washington and the father 
of General Robert E. Lee of the Civil War of 1861. 21 

In order to discover if possible the plans and intentions of 
the enemy, Washington at first took a position directly in their 
path on Red Clay Neck, not far from Wilmington, with his 
left on Christiana Creek and his right extending towards 
Chadd's Ford. But the British seemed inclined to pass round 
him and press on to Philadelphia without giving battle. Howe 
seemed anxious to reach the Brandywine River unmolested, 
and having crossed it to press on to the Schuylkill, which if he 
could cross without interference, would give hi? an easy 
entrance into Philadelphia. Those two rivers were the only 
natural obstacles which protected the town, and it seemed as 
if a battle would be fought at each of them. 22 

Howe did not seem to be seeking a battle, and apparently 
had no desire to use his numerical superiority in defeating the 
patriot army, but was merely trying to cross the two rivers as 
quickly and safely as possible, and reach his winter quarters 
in the town. 

The method of defence which Washington must adopt was 
now perfectly clear. He must dispute the crossing of those 
two rivers, for there his enemy would be weakest and the 
patriot chances of success at their best. He accordingly fell 
back to the Brandywine, crossed it and took up a position with 
his centre at Chadd's Ford and the river between him and the 
enemy. His left wing, under Armstrong, extended about a mile 
and a half down the river, and his right, under Sullivan, 
extended about two miles up the river, so that he covered nearly 
four miles of frontage on the river. 

* Galloway's examination before Parliament; G. W. Greene, "Life 
of General Greene," vol. i, p. 446; Writings of Washington, Ford edition, 
vol. vi, pp. 57, 58, 62, 65, 66. 

"Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, p. 67; Gordon, 
" American Revolution," edition 1784, vol. ii, p. 495. 



General Greene appears to have thought that a better plan 
would have been to stay on the same side of the Brandywine 
with Howe, wait till he began to cross and then attack him in 
the flank, which would prevent a regular pitched battle and 
give an easy chance for retreat. But this plan was rejected, 
and the one adopted by Washington has been generally sup- 
posed to have been the best and all that he could do. 23 

It is an elementary principle that an inferior force, placed 
in a strong position like that of Washington at Brandywine, 
with a river in front of it, and acting on the defensive, can re- 
sist the attack of a much superior force, if the superior force 
is content to attack in front. It is also equally elementary that 
the best policy for the superior force is not to confine itself 
to a front attack, but to use its greater numbers in flanking. 
. Howe fought only two battles of his own in this war, Long 
Island and Brandywine, both of which were absolutely neces- 
sary to enable him to get into towns for the winter; and he 
fought them both by flanking. He would probably have fought 
Bunker Hill in the same way if he had been allowed to use his 
own judgment. Knowing thoroughly the composition of the 
patriot army, the inadequacy of its staff, and its inability to 
obtain quick and sure information on the field, the flank move- 
ment was for him both obvious and easy. 

At Brandywine he sent Knyphausen, on the morning of 
the llth of September, to make a violent attack on Washing- 
ton's front and centre, while, under cover of the early morning 
fog, he and Cornwallis took the rest of the army far up the 
Brandywine and crossed it by one of the fords, with the inten- 
tion of coming down with irresistible force upon Washington 's 

A young man of the neighborhood, who wandered among 
the British troops, as non-combatants, whether patriots or 
loyalists, were allowed to do, has left a brief but rather inter- 
esting account of what he saw. He described Howe and 
Cornwallis as very large, heavy men, mounted on horses 

28 G. W. Greene, "Life of Nathanael Greene/' vol. i, p. 464 note, 



exhausted by the long sea-voyage. He watched the troops piling 
their blankets and knapsacks in the fields when preparing to 
fight, and he noticed their fresh-looking, smooth faces in strong 
contrast to the sunburnt Americans to whom he was accus- 
tomed. The subordinate officers he described as short, portly 
men, with very delicate white skins. 24 

During the morning the American army learned of Howe 's 
flanking movement from messengers sent by General Sullivan, 
who commanded the right wing up the river and Washington 
at once prepared to make what is often the counter-stroke to 
such a flanking movement. He intended to send a large part 
of his force under Greene to pass down along the river, con- 
cealed by the woods, cross the river and strike Knyphausen in 
the rear. At the same time "Washington was to lead in person 
an attack on Knyphausen 's front, while Sullivan held the 
flanking movement in check. If all this was successful Wash- 
ington would be in the position of having divided Howe's army 
in half, defeated one division of it and placed the river between 
himself and the other division. By a similar counter-stroke, 
Napoleon, when his right flank was being turned, brought 
victory out of defeat at Austerlitz. 

Washington, if his counter-stroke had succeeded, would also 
have had a brilliant victory. But when Sullivan was about 
to move forward to attack and check the flanking movement, a 
certain Major Spears rides up with the information that there 
is no appearance of the British flanking movement, and this 
is confirmed soon afterwards by a sergeant of the light horse 
sent out to explore. Sullivan immediately, without further 
investigation, sent this information back to Washington. It 
changed all his plans; and Greene was at once recalled from 
crossing the river to attack Knyphausen. 

It was not long, however, after the last information reached 
Washington before the whole British flanking movement in two 
columns had crossed the river and was moving down upon the 
troops under Sullivan. Stirling was attacked first, and Sulli- 

?* Bulletin, Pennsylvania Historical Society, vol. v, p. 23, 



van, in hastening to his assistance, took such a roundabout way 
that he arrived too late. When he attempted to form his own 
troops they were thrown into confusion by the overwhelming 
numbers of the British and retreated precipitately. 

Greene's division, consisting of Muhlenberg's and Weedon's 
brigades, all Virginians except Stewart's Pennsylvania regi- 
ment, came forward rapidly to save Sullivan's retreat, which 
was now a rout. This was the first appearance of any consider- 
able body of troops from so far south as Virginia in an impor- 
tant battle of the Revolution. They opened their ranks to let 
the fugitives through, and then selecting a narrow opening or 
pass with woods on both sides held it for an hour and a half 
against the heavy odds of the enemy. 

Weedon was an inn-keeper from Fredericksburg, Virginia, 
and Muhlenberg was a Lutheran preacher from the same state. 
Both of them were the sort of men the patriots were greatly 
ridiculed for placing in high command. But under Greene's 
direction, they checked the British advance and prevented panic 
and confusion. 

It was now sunset, and Knyphausen, finding that the flank- 
ing movement was succeeding, had crossed the river and com- 
pelled the rest of the American force to retreat as best it 
could from the ford. The American army was now in what 
Lafayette described as a very disorderly retreat, "fugitives, 
cannon, and baggage crowded without order into the road;" 
but favored by the darkness of the night they retired to Chester, 
on the Delaware Eiver. 

Various accounts of the losses on each side have been given ; 
and our people at first claimed to have inflicted greater loss 
than they suffered. Howe reported his loss at 90 killed and 
488 wounded, and the American loss in killed, wounded, and 
missing was estimated at about 1200. 25 

85 Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. ii, p. 509; W. 
B. Reed, "Life of Joseph Reed," vol. i, pp. 305, 307; "Life of George 
Read," pp. 271, 272; G. W. Greene, "Life of Nathanael Greene," vol. i, 
p. 447; Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, p. 71; Ahnon'a 



The accuracy of Howe's flanking movement, its complete 
success and the absence of mistakes were a credit to his skill, 
and showed the superior organization of his army. The numer- 
ous loyalists of that part of the country had no doubt given him 
full information of the patriot position. The patriots, on the 
other hand, could obtain no reliable information from the 
inhabitants, and had so few and such insufficient cavalry that 
they could make no extended and rapid explorations. The 
British flank movement crossed the river by an upper ford of 
which Sullivan, who was supposed to be guarding in that 
direction, had never heard. 

This Sullivan who learned of the flanking movement too 
late at Brandywine, was the same Sullivan who had failed to 
know of the flanking movement in time at Long Island. His 
forte did not lie in protecting an army's flank. Washington 
acquitted him of all blame at Brandywine; and said that he 
could have done no more than he did. But a large part of the 
patriot public never forgave him and insisted that he should 
have made further investigations or have gone in person to 
see if Spears and the sergeant were right in their report. 26 

The easy confidence and the effortless manner with which 
Howe secured these two victories of Long Island and Brandy- 
wine was a striking circumstance and set people wondering 
why he did not do more, why he did not crush and annihilate 
his enemy and end the war that summer. "Howe always 
succeeded," said Galloway, "in every attack he thought proper 
to make, as far as he chose to succeed/' 

Military critics, like Du Portail and Stedman, as well as 
political pamphleteers in England, and among the loyalists, 

Remembrances, vol. r, p. 409; Muhlenberg, "Life of Muhlenberg; " St. 
Clair Papers, vol. i, p. 97; Memoirs and Correspondence of Lafayette, 
London, edition 1837, vol. i, p. 24; Octavius Pickering, "Life of Timothy 
Pickering/' p. 155 note; Drake, "Life of General Knox," p. 48; Howe, 
" Observations upon a Pamphlet Entitled Letters to a Nobleman," p. 98. 
80 For a vindication of Sullivan see American Historical Magazine 
for December, 1866; Proceedings Massachusetts Historical Society, 
1866-67, p. 380; Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. ii, p. 73 note, 



ivere all agreed that Howe now had a good opportunity of 
exterminating the patriot army. He should have followed up 
the retreating patriots, they said, the day after Brandywine, 
while they were still demoralized. He could have crowded 
them into the triangle formed by the Delaware and SchuylkiLl 
rivers, and if they attempted to escape across the Schuylkill 
attack them in the act of crossing. 

"If the English/' said Du Portail, "had followed their 
advantage that day, Washington's army would have been 
spoken of no more." But Howe would not do it. He seemed 
to be entirely satisfied with himself, showed no anxiety as to 
the fate of Burgoyne, no hurry to reach Philadelphia, and for 
several weeks lay encamped in a pleasant situation on high 
ground within a few miles of the battlefield, and let his men 
wash their clothes. He seemed to be waiting for the weather 
to grow cooler before he took possession of the hot city. 27 
. If he had pursued "Washington, it was said, and inflicted a 
crushing defeat he might have left part of his force to occupy 
Philadelphia and marched the rest to the assistance of Bur- 
goyne. This was what the Ministry expected when they heard 
of the Philadelphia expedition, and it would have made that 
expedition an intelligent movement. 28 They also expected that 
Howe would have at least sent a force into New England to 
prevent the militia of that region being massed against Bur- 
goyne. As he had neglected to do this, and neglected to leave a 
sufficient force with Clinton to assist Burgoyne, it was to little 
purpose that he argued that he had sufficiently assisted Bur- 
goyne by withdrawing Washington's army to Philadelphia. 

As Washington had at most only 11,000, and Howe 18,000, 
and later 20,000, it was rather Washington drawing away 
Howe's army. This 18,000 were ill used in drawing away 
11,000-, when they left Clinton so weak that he could not assist 

27 Galloway, " A Reply to the Observations of General Howe," p. Ill ; 
Stedman, "American War/' edition 1794, vol. i, pp. 293, 294; Jones, 
" New, York in the Revolution," vol. i, p. 197. 

38 "Remarks on General Burgoyne's State of the Expedition from 
Canada/' p. 37, London, 1780. , 



Burgoyne, and when none were spared from them to make a 
diversion on the New England coast. The most effective way 
to have kept Washington's army from going against Burgoyne 
would have been for Howe to have placed himself between 
Washington and Burgoyne. But by going far away to Phila- 
delphia he gave Washington a chance to detach some of his 
forces and send them against Burgoyne. As General Eobertson 
put it in his testimony before the committee of inquiry, the 
movement of Howe to Philadelphia was a diversion, but a more 
powerful diversion in favor of Burgoyne would have been to 
go straight up the Hudson to his assistance. 29 

Howe's excuse that it would have been impossible for him 
to reach Burgoyne with Washington's force blocking the way 
on the Hudson at the Highland passes seems inadequate in view 
of Clinton's success at those passes with a very small force. 
Washington dreaded nothing so much as Howe's army going 
up the Hudson with its superior numbers and its numerous 
ships, while he would have had to follow it by land through a 
difficult mountainous country and draw his supplies from 
long distances to the southward. Howe could have sailed up 
the Hudson faster than Washington could have moved by land; 
and Washington was supremely pleased when he found that his 
enemy had gone to the Chesapeake, 

If Howe had used his fleet to take him up the Hudson he 
could afterwards have used a part of it for the vital service of 
an attack on New England. But to spend the whole force of 
the fleet and of three-fourths of his army in a long expedition 
by sea to the Chesapeake at the very moment that Burgoyne 
most needed assistance, and leave him without any assistance 
at all, was condemned by all military men of that time except 
two or three of Howe's subordinates. 30 

29 Burgoyne," State of the- Expedition from Canada," Appendix No. 10. 
"Anburey, "Travels/' vol. ii, pp. 26-30. 



THE day after the Battle of Brandywine, Washington 
collected the remains of his force and proceeded along the 
Delaware to the Schuylkill, which he crossed, and occupied his 
former cainp on Queen Lane, in Grermantown, seven miles 
north of Philadelphia. He was thus in a position to dispute 
Howe's crossing of the Schuylkill, which was a deeper river 
than the Brandywine, and had high bluffs which rendered the 
crossing of it in the face of an opposing force a very serious 
matter. By not pursuing Washington's army, Howe had thus 
given it a chance to fight another battle in what might be a 
much improved position. 

One of Washington's strongest traits was his ability to hold 
Ms men together after a defeat, and reanimate their spirits. 
His wounded had been distributed among various villages ; and 
Lafayette, who had been slightly wounded in the foot, was 
sent to Bethlehem, on the Lehigh River, to be cared for by 
the Moravians. Several foreign officers besides Lafayette had 
distinguished themselves; and conspicuous among them was 
Count Pulaski, a Polish nobleman and a superb horseman. 
The Congress now made him a commander of cavalry in order 
to encourage and develop that arm which heretofore had 
amounted to little or nothing in the patriot service. 

Washington remained at Germantown not much more than 
a day. His object in going there seems to have been to arrange 
for defending the Schuylkill fords, rest his men, and see what 
Howe intended to do. As he found Howe was riot moving 
towards him, he placed part of his force at the different fords 
of the Schuylkill from the Falls up to Norristown ; and taking 
with him the main body of his army crossed the river and went 
to look for Howe, who was still encamped near the battlefield 
of Brandywine. 



It was a movement which has never been satisfactorily 
explained and was certainly not lacking in boldness, for Wash- 
ington had with him not more than 9000 men, as against Howe's 
18,000. One would at first suppose that Washington would 
watch from a distance, and as soon as the British advanced 
toward the Schuylkill fall back to that river as he fell back to 
the Brandywine and make a final stand on it. But possibly 
Washington was uneasy about the patriot military stores at 
Reading and thought it his duty to place himself between them 
and Howe. These stores were considered of vital importance 
and influenced many of Washington's movements at this time. 
Howe could easily have destroyed the stores the day after 
Brandywine. But whatever Washington's reason may have 
been he now went straight towards the enemy with the inten- 
tion, as he said, "of attacking them either in front or on their 
flank," and as he adds, "with a prospect of success. 7 ' 1 

On the 17th of September the two armies approached each 
other a little west of Paoli, at the Warren Tavern. It was 
certainly an unusual spectacle for a small defeated army to 
return to the victor, and standing in front of him, dare him to 
fight. One would naturally expect that there would be as 
serious a conflict as at the Battle of the Brandywine, for the 
American force was not protected by a stream or any natural 
obstacle. One would also naturally suppose that Howe would 
have welcomed such an opportunity to crush his enemy. 

He was indeed advancing towards the Americans, and 
Wayne was sent forward to skirmish and check the advance 
until the American line of battle could be formed. This line 
was first formed without any protection in front of it, and with 
a wet valley or pond in the rear, which would have interfered 
with retreat. Greene and Pickering called Washington's atten- 
tion to their danger, and the line was changed to the high 
ground on the other side, so that the wet valley lay between 
the Americans and the British. But there was nothing ap- 
parently to prevent Howe turning either or both the American 

1 Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, p. 76. 



flanks in his favorite manner. It was certainly heroic of Wash- 
ington tod his officers to take this risk with their small defeated 

At almost the last moment the sky, which had been overcast, 
became black with storm, and presently the rain descended 
in torrents, which continued the rest of the day and all night. 
Such a catastrophe of nature in those times reduced the fire- 
arms of an army to mere clubs ; for the powder in the pans of 
the locks would not explode, and the paper cartridges of powder 
were also useless. No battle was fought, and at night the 
Americans retreated through the drenching rain, with the inten- 
tion, Washington says, of going only a few miles to dry their 
ammunition, clean their guns, and return to the enemy. But he 
found that nearly all his ammunition was ruined by the rain 
and the guns so unfit for service, that he kept on Tetreating to 
a strong position on some high ground extending from Valley 
Forge, on the Schuylkill, towards an old and now forgotten 
summer resort, called the Yellow Springs. 2 

When the news of this fiasco reached England, torrents of 
abuse were poured out on Howe for his loss of such an oppor- 
tunity to annihilate the rebel army, which his critics said could 
have been scattered and routed with the bayonet alone ; and, as 
the British soldiers could not shoot well and the bayonet was 
their favorite weapon, why not use it on this occasion, when the 
powder of the Americans was spoiled and their marksmanship 
of no avail ? But both in his " Narrative " and in his report of 
the affair Howe describes the Americans as retreating precip- 
itately before his army reached them ; and perhaps Washington, 
finding his powder wet, saw that he must retreat at once before 
the enemy came nearer, 

Washington had left Wayne with a small force to watch 

3 Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, pp. 77, 81, 83; 
Galloway, "Letters to a Nobleman on the Conduct of the War," p. 76 
note; G. W. Greene, "Life of Nathanael Greene," vol. i, p. 461; 'Gordon, 
"American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. ii, p. 515; "Life of Picker- 
ing," pp. 159, 162; Parliamentary Register, House of Commons 1779 
vol. xii, p. 428. 



the British, and harass their rear if they moved towards the 
Schuylkill. Wayne's letters and reports, full of his usual 
confidence, imply that he believed a successful attack could be 
made on the enemy; and in one letter he says he had so 
successfully concealed his troops that the British were entirely 
unaware of his presence, although he watched all their move- 
ments and could see them cooking and washing their clothes. 
He was wof ully mistaken ; and it shows how absurd it was to 
suppose that the British through their spies and the loyalists 
did not know all that went on among the patriots. 

On the night of the 20th of September a party of British, 
under General Grey, rushed suddenly upon Wayne's fifteen 
hundred men, encamped near the Paoli Inn. Grey, whose only 
distinction in the war was in prisoner-killing, had recently 
arrived in America. He compelled his men, it is said, to draw 
the loads from their muskets and take the flints from the ham- 
mers, a method which at that time was supposed to be very 
effective for a night attack. He was ever afterwards known 
among the patriots as No-Flint Grey. But his men must have 
reloaded some of the guns, for, according to Wayne's account, 
there was considerable firing on both sides. 

Wayne was not surprised, as has been generally supposed. 
He had been warned of the attack by a person in the neighbor- 
hood whose servant had overheard the British discussing it. 
Though prepared he could not withstand such overwhelming 
odds; but he saved his artillery and stores. Grey committed, 
it is said, most ruthless slaughter with sword and bayonet on 
those he first came upon, killing sixty and wounding over two 
hundred. It was generally regarded as such an excessive 
massacre of men who had surrendered that it amounted to 
prisoner-killing. 8 

Washington's bold manoeuvres, whatever may have been his 
intention, had no effect in deterring Howe from attempting 
to cross the Schuylkill Eiver. On the contrary, they eneour- 

8 W. B. Reed, "Life of Joseph Reed," vol. i, note pp. 312, 313; 
Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, vol. i, p. 285; Corre- 
spondence of Henry Laurens, p. 63 ; Stille*, " Life of Wayne," pp. 82-91, 
Vol. II 3 33 


aged him to do it ; for the patriot force was off to the side and 
presented no obstacle between the British and the river. We 
find that immediately after the Paoli massacre, as it was called, 
Howe moved towards the Schuylkill to cross it and enter 

There was much discussion among Washington's officers as 
to the best plan of resistance. Greene again put forward his 
suggestion of remaining on the same side of the river with 
Howe and attacking him in the flank as soon as he began to 
cross. In this way Greene thought that, with comparatively 
little risk, a crippling blow could be delivered which might 
save Philadelphia. Subsequent events seemed to indicate that 
in this instance of the Schuylkill, Greene's method might have 
been the better course to pursue. But a council of war decided 
to defend the Schuylkill in exactly the same way that the de- 
fence of the Brandywine had been attempted ; and the patriot 
army accordingly crossed to the Philadelphia side, officers and 
men wading the fords where the water was up to their breasts, 
and marching during the cool damp night to their various 
stations along the left bank. 4 

The Schuylkill, because it was larger and had high banks, 
seemed easier to defend than the Brandywine; and if the 
British should attempt to cross it as they had crossed the 
Brandywine, a. severe battle was naturally to be expected, 
with better chances of success for the Americans. But there 
were so many fords on the Schuylkill that if the British could 
manoeuvre suddenly to a ford and be unmolested for an hour 
or two, they would have a good opportunity to cross. Howe 
seems to have looked at it in this way, and he was again entirely 
equal to the occasion. Instead of attempting to cross immedi- 
ately or use any of the strategy he had employed at the Brandy- 
wine, he began to march his whole force up the right bank as if 
moving on the patriot supplies at Reading, while Washington 
followed along the opposite bank, keeping even pace with the 

*G. W. Greene, "Life of Nathanael Greene," vol. i, pp. 463-465; 
Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, p. 80. 



British, when, by a sudden and totally unexpected backward 
movement, Howe slipped a sufficient force over Flatland's and 
Gordon's fords to protect his crossing. Before Washington was 
aware of it, nearly the. whole British army crossed at midnight 
without having to fire a shot or lose a man. 5 

It was the cleverest piece of work that Howe ever did, and 
entirely in accord with what seemed to be his plan of carrying 
on the war by occupying posts and cities and fighting as few 
battles and losing as few men as possible. 

Washington was, of course, criticised for allowing the cross- 
ing to happen in such a way, and again we hear complaints of 
his want of decision and his over-reliance on the opinions of 
.others in councils of war; and these unjust attacks upon his 
ability increased more than ever during the next few months. 
On the nights when the two armies were keeping even pace with 
each other up opposite banks of the Schuylkill, General Greene 
and Colonel Pickering watered their horses together as they 
crossed the Perkiomen. 

"General Greene," said Pickering, "before I came to the 
army, I entertained an exalted opinion of General Wash- 
ington's military talents, but I have since seen nothing to 
enhance it." 

In relating the incident, Pickering said that his opinion of 
Washington had been sensibly lowered ; but he did not like to 
state it to Greene as strongly as he felt. Greene, however, 
understood what was meant, for he instantly replied : 

"Why, the general does want decision; for my part I decide 
in a moment." 6 

Washington's explanation of the misfortune at the Sehuyl- 
.kill was that he could not prevent it; that Howe's movement 
towards the stores at Beading compelled the patriot army to 
hasten to their rescue, for the loss of those stores "must have 
proved our ruin." Being obliged to follow the British army 

"Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, pp. 82, 84; Drake, 
"Life of General Knox," p. 50. 

6 G. W. Greene, " Life of General Greene,'* vol. i, p. 468. 



in order to save the stores, he could obtain no information of 
Howe's backward movement in the darkness in time to act 
against it, because all the people in that part of the country 
were loyalists. It was also at this time that he reported a 
thousand of his men marching bare-footed. The loyalism of 
that part of Pennsylvania was so strong that although it was 
invaded by the British there were not 2000 of the Pennsyl- 
vania patriot militia assisting Washington, and Pickering 
describes the patriot army as "in an enemy's country." This 
was in striking contrast to the situation in New England, where 
17,000 militia had turned out to save Boston from the British. 7 
Washington certainly used councils of war and relied on 
them to an unusual extent, even when 'they decided against his 
own judgment. To men like Greene, who afterwards in his 
campaigns in the South was notorious for independent action, 
this submission of everything to a council seemed a waste 
of time. But there was method in Washington's reliance on 
councils. He probably felt that in conducting such a war it 
was all-important for him to keep in accord with public opinion 
in order to hold together the patriot party and attach to the 
cause every possible clique and interest; and to him the 
council of war represented public opinion in the patriot party, 
In this way he humored hostile factions by allowing them to 
take a hand in shaping events, and prevented the growth of 
any feeling that he was aiming to be a dictator. Almost every- 
thing was done by consultation ; and he seems to have encour- 
aged his officers when away from him to consult among them- 
selves as to the movements they should make. 8 

1 1rving, "Life of Washington," vol. iii, chap. 19,- Baker, "Itinerary 
of Washington," p. 92; Niles, "Principles and Acts of the Revolution," 
edition 1876, p. 250; Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol vi p 
126; "Life of Pickering/' pp. 163, 164, 175. 

'Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, pp. 87, 88. 




PHILADELPHIA was lost to the patriots. The Congress had 
fled; church bells and valuable patriot property had been 
removed; and on the 26th of September, part of the British 
army, under Cornwallis, marched into the town in grand 
display, the bands playing and the Hessians, with their up- 
turned moustaches, scowling in the most terrible manner. 

Meanwhile, Washington's force encamped near Penni- 
becker's Mill, on the Perkiomen, to await developments and 
see what method the British would adopt for protecting them- 
selves in Philadelphia. 1 Within a few days it was discovered 
that while Cornwallis occupied the city with part of the British 
force, Howe had formed a strong outpost, under his own per- 
sonal command, at Germantown, seven miles north of Philadel- 
phia. The object of this outpost, as Howe afterwards ex- 
plained, was to control the main roads leading towards the 
American army, and deter Washington from interfering with 
another British detachment which had gone to attack the forts 
on the Delaware below the city. 

The enemy being thus broken up into three divisions, one 
in Philadelphia, one at Germantown, and one down the river 
and some two thousand reinforcements having arrived at the 
patriot camp, it was decided by one of Washington's councils 
of war to attack the nearest division at Germantown. This 
division had no fortifications of any kind for their protection, 
and four convenient roads led directly towards them. 

The British were camped along School Lane and Mill Street 
at right angles to the four roads ; and the plan of battle was 
that the central road or main street of Germantown should be 
used for attacking the British centre, the next road eastward, 

1 Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, pp. 87, 93. 



known as the Limekiln Road, for turning their right flank, and 
the two extreme outer roads, the York Eoad, on the east, and 
the Eidge Eoad, on the west, for throwing two forces in their 
rear. Sullivan commanded on the main road against their 
centre; Greene had the Limekiln Eoad for turning their right 
flank; Smallwood had the York Eoad, on the east, for getting 
in their rear, and Armstrong the Eidge Eoad, on the west, for 
the same purpose. Washington, as commander, went with 
Sullivan's division in the centre. 

The plan has generally been regarded as a good one, except 
that it was rather too elaborate and widespread to be carried 
out by a badly organized army. But that army cheerfully set 
out to execute it about eight o'clock in the evening of the 3rd of 
October, and, marching all night, were close to the enemy at sun- 
rise. Unfortunately everything was obscured by a dense fog, 
so that objects were scarcely discernible at fifty yards. 

Sullivan's division on the main road came upon the British 
outpost at Mount Airy; and Wayne's men attacked it in the 
most vigorous manner, capturing the encampment and tents 
and, according to Wayne's account, using their bayonets so 
effectively that the British fled in the utmost confusion. His 
men, he said, remembered the massacre of their comrades two 
weeks before at Paoli, "and took ample vengeance for that 
night's work." 

"Our officers exerted themselves to save many of the poor wretches 
who were crying for mercy, but to little purpose, the rage and fury of 
the soldiers were not to be restrained for some time, at least not until 
great numbers of the enemy fell by their bayonets." ( W. B. Reed, " Life 
of Joseph Reed," vol. i, p. 320.) 

But part of this Fortieth British regiment, which Wayne's 
men were punishing so severely, seems to have thrown itself 
into the large mansion house of Chief Justice Chew, and used 
its windows and heavy stone walls as a fortification. While 
Wayne pressed on after the rest of the regiment there was a 
discussion between Washington and some of his officers 
whether this house should be passed or reduced. Knox urged 



the military rule, never to leave a fortress of the enemy in your 
rear; and Reed replied, "What! call this a fort and lose the 
happy moment I" Unfortunately, Knox's opinion prevailed, 
and nearly half the American army was for some time uselessly 
delayed around this massive residence of the half -loyalist chief 
justice of Pennsylvania. 2 

.Meanwhile, Greene had succeeded in turning the British 
right and was forcing his way along Mill Street towards the 
British centre, meeting with great success and taking 110 
prisoners. But unsupported by Sullivan's division, which was 
still largely engaged at the Chew house, and without assistance 
from either Smallwood or Armstrong, who had failed to get in 
the enemy's rear, the success of Greene's division in the 
obscurity of the fog was likely to prove his ruin. One of his 
colonels became separated in the fog, and was captured with all 
his regiment. Wayne's men and others of Sullivan's division 
that had pressed on were mistaken for. the enemy by Greene's 
division and fired upon. The whole of Sullivan's division, 
having at last pressed forward by the main road, were suddenly 
thrown into confusion by some one, it is said, shouting that they 
were surrounded. . 

But the real cause of the disaster was that the attack was 
not a surprise. The British were prepared for it. Armstrong 
marching by the Ridge Road had not been able to reach the 
rear of the British left wing, which, commanded by No-Flint 
Grey, now rallied to the rescue of the centre. At the same time 
Cornwallis arrived from Philadelphia with a squadron of light 
horse. They attacked both Sullivan's and Greene's divisions 
and drove them slowly back. Greene, almost surrounded, with- 
drew his division with the greatest difficulty. Pulaski's cavalry, 
which attempted to check the enemy, were forced back and rode 
into Greene's men, scattering and demoralizing them; but 
Greene was able to re-form them by the device of persuading 

a There has been some difference of opinion as to whether the delay 
at the Chew house was really a serious hindrance. See W. B. Heed, 
"Life of Joseph Reed," vol. i, p. 322; Lee, Memoirs, vol. i, p. 29. 



a number of them to hold each other's hands until a new line 
was formed. After five miles of pursuit, the British withdrew 
and the battle was over. 

The battle, it has often been said, came very near being an 
overwhelming victory for the Americans. But the truth seems 
to have been, that the old difficulties of defective discipline in 
the patriot army, lack of proper staff officers and no possibility 
of quick communication on the field, weakness of the troops 
from starvation, combined with the fog, made success impos- 
sible. So undisciplined were the troops that four or five of 
them would unite to carry a wounded comrade off the field, 
dropping and losing their own arms by the way, and perhaps 
not returning to the battle line. Parties of Qermantown boys 
followed them about to watch the excitement and stare at the 
grim faces blackened with biting off their powder cartridges in 
the damp fog. 3 

"Washington lost in killed, wounded, and prisoners about a 
thousand and the British a little over five hundred. Contem- 
porary opinions of the battle varied. Far away from the scene 
of action, as in Europe, Washington was given the credit of 
having struck hard and courageously after a series of defeats, 
and of having raised the reputation of the patriot army among 
all its friends. Enthusiastic patriot officers like Knox declared 
that defeat always agreed with Americans. "We were more 
numerous after the Battle of Brandywine than before and we 
have demonstration of being more numerous now than before 
the 4th." 

8 Pennsylvania, Magazine of History and Biography, vol. i, p. 368; 
rol. ii, p. 112; vol. xvi, p. 197; Gordon, " American . Revolution/' edition- 
1788, vol. ii, pp. 521-27; G. W. Greene, "Life of Nathanael Greene," vol. 
i, pp. 472-481; W. B. Reed, "Life of Joseph Reed," vol. i, pp. 319-23; 
Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, pp. 93-96, 98-100, 113, 
126, 127; Stedman, "American War," vol. i, p. 299; "Life of Pickering," 
pp. 167-171, 177; Lee, Memoirs, vol. i, pp. 27-30; Stille, "Life of 
Wayne," pp. 94-98; Johnson, "Life of Greene," vol. i, p. 83; Howe's 
'* Narrative," p. 27; Parliamentary Register, House of Commons, 1779, 
vol. xi, p. 431, 



In the Congress and among the patriot leaders, many who 
were Washington's personal friends regarded the Battle of 
Qermantown as a failure and another proof of the General's 
incapacity. They openly expressed their disgust at what they 
considered his blunders and Fabian policy of delay. Mifflin 
was so weary of his methods that he abandoned the duties 
of his quartermaster-general department and retired to Bead- 
ing, John Adams declared himself "sick of Fabian sys- 
tems in all quarters." " Out affairs are Fabianized," wrote 
James Lovell, "into a very disagreeable posture." The term 
Fabian seems to have been used to avoid directly naming the 
commander-in-chief, who was accused of being entirely too 
much under the influence of Greene. And all this abuse was 
soon given point and strength by the striking success of Gates 
in checking the advance of Burgoyne from the north. 4 

4 G. W. Greene, "Life of General Greene/' vol. i, p. 482; Drake, 
"Life of General Knox," p. 53. 



WASHINGTON was not yet through with his defeats, for the 
important question of the river defences of Philadelphia was 
still unsettled. It was part of the weakness of the British in 
their invasion of America, that their army had to rely on 
receiving supplies by sea from England, three thousand miles 
away. They, of course, obtained a certain amount of food and 
forage from the neighborhood of any place they occupied. But 
they never relied on that alone ; and, consequently, were never 
able to penetrate far inland. Philadelphia being about ninety 
miles from the sea up a river somewhat difficult of navigation, 
the question arose whether Howe could stay there without 
starving; and the fact was that he could not remain unless he 
had absolute control of the navigation of the river from the 
city to the capes. He was well aware of this ; and his brother, 
the admiral, who had brought the army to the head of the 
Chesapeake, had waited until he heard of the general's success 
at Brandywine, when he returned down the Chesapeake and 
came round into the Delaware. 

The Pennsylvania patriots had undertaken early in the war 
to protect Philadelphia by blocking up the main channel of the 
river and placing forts on the banks below the city. We have 
already seen that a similar attempt was made in the Hudson 
by stretching across the stream between Fort Washington and 
Fort Lee a great chain with old hulks attached to it and 
weighted in such a way that they would hang a little below 
the surface. The intention was that war vessels would either 
be unable to pass or would be delayed so long in passing that 
the forts would have time to riddle them with shot. But the 



plan failed, for the chain either broke or failed to delay the 
war-ships. 1 

In the Delaware a bedwork of heavy timbers was constructed 
to rest upon the bottom. Other powerful timbers fastened at 
right angles to each other were secured on this bed in such a 
way that their points, shod with iron, extended upwards at an 
angle of about forty-five degrees and would pierce any vessel 
that struck them. This contrivance, invented by Franklin and 
called by him chevaux de frise, was eminently successful. 
The British ships could not pass the spikes, and considerable 
difficulty was experienced in removing them. 

Several ranges of these chevaux dejrise were placed in the 
main channel between Fort Mifflin, on the Pennsylvania shore, 
and Fort Mercer, at Red Bank, on the Jersey shore ; and it was 
an excellent defence, for no ships could work at removing the 
obstructions without being sunk by the forts. About three miles 
further down the river, the patriots had sunk some more 
ranges of chevaux de frise, and were now engaged in building 
a fort for their protection at Billingsport, on the Jersey shore. 

The incomplete state of this fort was noticed by the captain 
of the "Roebuck," the first of the British war-ships to come 
up the river, and he sent word to General Howe, who immedi- 
ately sent a detachment of two regiments to take it; and it was 
to prevent Washington attacking this detachment that Howe 
had taken a position near him at Germantown. The detachment 
went down the river on the Pennsylvania side to Chester, 
crossed over under protection of the " Roebuck " to the 
Jersey shore, and moved up to the fort, which was immediately 
set on fire and abandoned by its garrison. 

This loss considerably weakened the defences of the city; 
for the crew of the "Roebuck" now cut out or took up enough 
of these lower ranges of chevaux de frise to enable nearly all 
the war vessels to approach and mass themselves near Fort 

*G. W. Greene, "Life of Nathanael Greene," vol. i, p. 482; Writings 
of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, pp. 83, 84; Stedman, "American 
War," vol. i, p. 297. 



Mifflin and Eed Bank, which protected the upper ranges of 
obstructions. 2 

Everything, therefore, depended on holding Fort Mifflin 
and Eed Bank. If they could be held, Howe would be com- 
pelled to evacuate Philadelphia and return to New York or 
maintain a line of communication down the Pennsylvania shore 
of the Delaware until a point below the chevaux de frise was 
reached, where he could connect with his brother's ships. This 
last method had been already adopted, and his supplies were 
brought to him from Chester, which was on the river below the 
chevaux de frise. But such a line was open to attack by the 
patriot army and might be cut off altogether ; and if the patriots 
could hold the forts for a couple of months, until the ice in the 
river came to their aid to stop navigation, the British army in 
Philadelphia would be starved to a surrender, or would have 
to attempt to escape across New Jersey to New York. 

Philadelphia was nothing but a death-trap for the British 
unless they had complete control of the Delaware to the sea, and 
Washington seldom wrote such urgent letters or made such 
strong appeals as he did to save Mifflin and Eed Bank. He 
wrote for reinforcements from Putnam, who was guarding the 
Hudson Highlands, and even asked for reinforcements from 
the army of Gates, who was fighting Burgoyne on Lake George. 
He had made these requests as soon as Howe had crossed the 
Schuylkill Eiver; and three days after the Battle of German- 
town, finding that some of these reinforcements were on their 
way to join him, he wrote to their commander requesting him 
to reinforce Eed Bank as quickly as possible. "The whole 
defence of the Delaware," he said, "depends upon it, and 
consequently all the enemy's hopes of keeping Philadelphia, 
and finally succeeding." 8 

Colonel Christopher Greene, a relative of General Greene, 

a Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. ii, p. 521; 
Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, pp. 18-27. 

8 Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, pp. 84-86, 101 note, 
104, 105, 124, 125 note; Correspondence of Henry Laurens, pp. 69, 61, 62. 



was given command of Red Bank ; and Colonel Samuel Smith, 
of Maryland, with two hundred men, had already made a dash 
to get into Fort Mifflin. He found it garrisoned with only 
thirty militia and almost destitute of ammunition, but he was 
soon reinforced with two .hundred Virginians. These prepara- 
tions were made during the two weeks that Howe remained in 
Germantown after the battle. .On the 19th of October he 
withdrew from Germantown and collected his whole army in 
Philadelphia. Two days before that Burgoyne, whom he had 
refused to support, was obliged to surrender his army at 

As soon as Howe retired to Philadelphia he protected the 
city from attack on the north by a line of redoubts stretching 
from the Delaware to the Schuylkill, along the present lines of 
Green and Poplar streets. On all other sides, Philadelphia was 
protected by the Schuylkill and Delaware, which come together 
below the town. 

Fort Mifflin was on Mud Island, just below the mouth of the 
Schuylkill and close to the Pennsylvania shore. Howe began 
proceedings by erecting with much difficulty a small battery on 
the only two dry places on the low marsh near the fort. This 
marsh or meadow was really another island, called Province 
Island, made by a back channel or slough wMch passed round 
it from the river. It was an awkward place on which to plant a 
battery. The Americans had cut the banks, which kept out the 
tide, and the whole island was flooded with water, except the 
two small dry spots chosen by Howe about five hundred yards 
from Fort Mifflin. Except on the sides towards these dry spots, 
Fort Mifflin was well protected. 

Howe's engineers had been quick to see that these two dry 
places were the key to the situation ; and when Colonel Smith 
took command of Fort Mifflin, he also saw this fatal weakness. 
He erected a two-gun battery, which demolished the first 
attempt of the British to hold the dry places ; but they almost 
immediately retook them, fortified themselves, increased the 
number of their guns, and Smith was never again able to drive 
them out. 



At the same time Howe sent over to New Jersey a body of 
Hessians, under Count Donop, with grenadiers and light in- 
fantry to attack Eed Bank, while the fleet was to come up as 
close to the chevaux de /rise as possible, and shell both 
Mifflin and Eed Bank. This attack was arranged for the 22d 
of October; and Count Donop began the day by demanding 
the surrender of Eed Bank, accompanied by the usual threat 
that if the rebels insisted on fighting no quarter would be given 
when the fort was taken. Colonel Greene, who had with him 
about four hundred Ehode Island troops, refused to surrender, 
and agreed that there should be no quarter on either side. 

When the flag to demand the surrender approached, Greene 
had concealed most of his troops, so that the officer with the flag 
thought the garrison very small; and Donop accordingly deter- 
mined to carry the works by assault. It was a bold course; for 
the fort was strong and the patriot row galleys above the 
chevaux de frise came near enough to help the fort. 

Donop charged on the fort in two columns, one commanded 
by himself and the other by Minigerode. They suffered 
severely as they ran over the open space ; but when they came 
to the outer works, they found them abandoned, and the inner 
works were silent. Thinking the fort secured, Minigerode J s 
men waved their hats and rushed on. They were met by a 
heavy volley; but they pressed on, reached the abatis of fallen 
trees and were pushing aside the branches, when they received 
another volley, from which they were with difficulty rallied. 
They came on again, and another volley throwing them into 
complete confusion, they ran round to the river f ront > where 
the galleys played upon them until they fled back to the woods. 
Donop 's column got through the abatis of trees, but was 
stopped by the wall nine feet high, surmountable only by scaling 
ladders, and unable to endure the deadly fire from it, they 
joined their comrades in flight. 

Greene lost only eight men killed and twenty-nine wounded ; 
but four hundred killed and wounded Hessians lay in heaps 
round the fort. The survivors hastened back to Philadelphia, 



cursing the British for exposing them to such danger and 
sending them without ladders to scale the walls. 

Count Donop, still alive, was dragged from one of the heaps 
of the dead and carried on a blanket into the fort. The soldiers 
who bore him could not refrain from reminding him that he 
had agreed that no quarter should be given. "I am in your 
hands," he said, " revenge yourselves/' He lived for three 
days, cared for at the house of a Quaker near by ; and when 
told that his end was near he said, "It is finishing a noble 
career early; but I die the victim of my ambition and of the 
avarice of my sovereign." 

The attack on Mifflin also failed, for the war-ships could not 
draw near enough ; and the obstructions in the river had altered 
the channel so that the frigate " Augusta" went aground and 
was burnt, and the sloop "Merlin" also grounded and was 
abandoned. These successes raised the question whether it 
might not be advisable to follow them by a general attack on 
the British in Philadelphia ; but a council of war decided that 
it would be better to reinforce Mifflin and Eed Bank and rely 
on them alone.* 

Fort Mifflin was obviously weak on the land side, and the 
British accordingly began to strengthen the battery they had 
planted on the dry places on that side, and decided to rely on 
it to reduce the fort. They had discovered that they could send 
boats at night through the passage or back channel between 
Fort Mifflin and this battery. The obstructions in the main 
channel had deflected the current and caused it to scour out 
and deepen this back channel. Supplies from the fleet were 
sent every night in this way to the city. The passage should 
have been obstructed by the patriots. But even without ob- 
structions the British boats might have been prevented from 
using it if Commodore Hazlewood, who commanded the patriot 
row galleys in the upper part of the river, had been willing to 
come close and use his guns. 

Everything, the whole fate of the war and quick independ- 

* Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, pp. 143, 144. 



ence, now depended on Fort Mifflin; for if it could be held 
Howe must either surrender or escape back to New York ; and 
if such an event had happened, accompanied by the surrender 
of Burgoyne at Saratoga, it would be very difficult for the Tory 
Ministry to survive such a double humiliation. Fort Mifflin 's 
danger was from the land batteries ; and why should not these 
be destroyed by Washington taking his whole force or sending a 
detachment against them f Howe was no longer at Germantown, 
where he had at first taken post to prevent such a movement. 

If, however, the main American army remained at White 
Marsh, where it now was, north of Germantown, and a detach- 
ment went from it to the relief of Fort Mifflin, Howe might 
cross the Sehuylkill at the Middle Ferry, now Market Street 
bridge, come in behind the detachment and cut it off. A 
more feasible plan was for Washington to leave a small force 
at White Marsh to cover the hospitals and stores at Heading 
and Bethlehem, take his main army to the Middle Ferry of the 
Sehuylkill, so as to prevent Howe crossing, and then send a 
detachment to destroy the British land batteries that were 
assailing Fort Mifflin. 

The plan seemed to promise success. Wayne was enthu- 
siastic over it and was to command the detachment against 
the land batteries. But although Washington seems to have 
favored the enterprise, his council of war voted it down. It 
was no doubt full of dangers. Howe driven to desperation 
might become aggressive. He might cross the Sehuylkill above 
the Middle Ferry and force the patriot army into an awkward 
situation, in the angle of the rivers. There was even something 
to be said in favor of letting Howe keep Philadelphia and 
become innocuous for another nine months. The execution of 
the plan was accordingly postponed until reinforcements should 
arrive from Gates in the North ; this postponing was continued 
until all chance of saving Fort Mifflin was gone; and there 
was another outburst of indignation against councils of war, 
which Wayne said were "the surest way to do nothing." 5 

6 Lee, Memoirs, vol. i, pp. 35-39; Stille", "Life of Wayne," pp. 
103-107, 112. 



All that Washington could attempt was to try to mislead 
the British and prevent their massing troops' against the forts 
by contriving that intelligence should all into their hands of 
a great patriot movement for the capture of New York and 
Staten Island. 6 But Howe's army went steadily on with their 
work. It was now a question between Fort Miffiin and the 
battery on the Pennsylvania shore, and for a time nature was 
on the side of the fort. There came three or four days of very 
high tides which swept over the dry places at the battery, 
drowned some of the British soldiers, and stopped the working 
of all their guns but one. Advantage should have been taken 
of this by the galleys ; but their commodore would do very little 
to assist the fort. He was a long range commodore, and disliked 
close quarters ; for he said a single shell from the fleet might 
sink one of his galleys; or being a mere state officer, he may 
have been unwilling to assist the continental troops. 

When the tides subsided, the British set to work with 
renewed vigor. They remounted their guns and poured such 
a continuous fire into the fort for several days that two of its 
guns were silenced, the northwest block-house and laboratory 
blown up and the garrison forced to shelter themselves in the 
new works. On the llth of November, Colonel Smith, wounded 
and exhausted, was relieved, and Major Thayer, of Rhode 
Island, took his place. 

On the 15th of November the British planned a combined 
attack. Several of the fleet came up close to the chevaux de 
frise so as to attack the fort in front and also so as to reply 
to a small new battery on the Jersey shore erected below the 
chevaux de frise to annoy the fleet. Two vessels, the "Vigi- 
lant 17 and a hulk worked their way into the passage between 
Fort 'Mifflin and Province Island, so as to second the work of 
the battery that had already done so much damage. The 
"Vigilant" and the hulk could pour a hot fire on the fort and 
from their masts shoot down into it. A fatal mistake had been 

9 Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, p. 176 note. 
Vol. II 4 49 


made in not watching this passage and learning that the de- 
flected current had deepened it. Two old vessels sunk in it 
would probably have choked it up, and General Reed thought 
that if this had been done, both Mifflin and Eed Bank would 
have been saved, Howe would have been compelled to evacuate 
Philadelphia, with heavy loss, and the war would have been 
terminated. 7 

The combined fire of all these ships and batteries was the 
heaviest cannonading that occurred in America during the war. 
It was estimated that over a thousand shot were fired every 
twenty minutes. Fort Mifflin was doomed. But Thayer kept 
up his resistance all day with the utmost heroism. By noon 
the furious fire from all directions had beaten down his re- 
doubts almost level with the mud, and his men were shelter- 
ing themselves as best they could in the remaining buildings 
and ruins. The way was still open for them to escape across 
the river above the chevaux de frise, and early in the evening 
Thayer sent away all but forty, together with a large part of 
his supplies. The forty he kept with him till midnight, and 
before crossing to Eed Bank they set fire to the remains of 
the fort. 

The British fleet could now send up supplies by day as well 
as by night through the passage behind what had been Fort 
Mifflin. On the 18th Cornwallis took a force from Philadelphia 
to Chester and crossed to New Jersey to attack Bed Bank. He 
was joined by 2000 reinforcements from New York, giving him 
an army of at least 5000 men. A patriot force of about 3000, 
under General Greene, crossed the Delaware above Philadel- 
phia, as if to help the fort, and there were expectations that it 
might be saved. But the expedition of Greene seems to have 
been made as a matter of policy, for appearance sake, and to 
satisfy the clamors of the New Jersey patriots, who said they 
were left unprotected. There was no hope of saving Red 
Bank, which was evacuated and abandoned before Cornwallis 
reached it. 

T W. B. Reed, "Life of Joseph Reed," vol. i, pp. 338, 341. 



While Howe was weakened by the absence of Cornwallis 
in New Jersey, some of the more ardent of Washington's offi- 
cers were for attacking the line of fortifications on the north 
of Philadelphia and breaking into the town. It would have 
been a popular enterprise very inspiring to the patriot party, 
but it was abandoned as too hazardous. The British fleet soon 
began to take up the chevaux de frise, and the patriot galleys, 
under Commodore Hazlewood, either escaped up the river or 
were set on fire by their crews and abandoned. 8 

Howe was now secure in Philadelphia. But before settling 
down comfortably for the winter he made a fruitless expedition, 
which, like White Plains and Warren Tavern, aroused the 
greatest ridicule and indignation against him among the loyal- 
ists and his critics in England. Washington had moved his 
army to a position at White Marsh, some fifteen miles north of 
Philadelphia, and thither on the night of the 4th of December 
marched Howe in personal command of what Washington 
described as the whole British army and one of his officers 
estimated at 15,000 men. For several days Howe marched and 
counter-marched round Washington's position, accomplishing 
nothing ; and no small number of his troops were picked off in 
skirmishing with the militia and Morgan's riflemen. 

When Washington found that the British would not attack 
him, he was inclined to attack them. But his officers dissuaded 
him from moving from his good position to assail at disad- 
vantage such an overwhelmingly superior enemy. No doubt the 

8 Gordon gives a very careful description of these events, which he 
investigated almost immediately after their occurrence. See G. W. Greene. 
" Life of Nathanael Greene/' vol. i, p. 484, and note to p. 509, where he 
gives a good list of the sources of the original evidence. Also, W. B. 
Reed, "Life of Joseph Reed," vol. i, pp. 335-341; Writings of Wash- 
ington, Ford edition, vol. vi, pp. 131, 137 note, 143-146, 148, 157, 159, 
168, 169, 176, 177, 187 note, 188, 199-206, 217, 218 note, 220, 224, 227 
note, 228, 373, 374 ; Correspondence of Henry Laurens, pp. 63-68 ; " Life 
of Pickering/' pp. 174, 178-182; Stedman, "American War," vol. i, 
p. 301. 



safer course was to wait to be attacked when he would be 
able to inflict heavy loss on the British and compel them to 
purchase a victory as dearly as possible. Military critics 
insisted that Howe, having almost double the number of Wash- 
ington, could have inflicted a severe defeat and scattered 
the American army. He could have gone round in the rear 
of Washington, it was said, threatening to cut him off from 
his baggage and provisions, and this would have compelled 
Washington to fight at a disadvantage or retreat to save his 
baggage. 9 

. It was certainly a rather strange expedition, and Howe's 
explanation was merely that he had gone out in that way to 
reconnoitre Washington's position , and found it too strong to 
be attacked. 10 After wandering about in the neighborhood for 
a few days, he returned with his army to Philadelphia. 

Soon after this parade, Washington took his army to Matt- 
son's Ford, on the Schuylkill. One-half of them, Greene 
reported, were without breeches, shoes or stockings, and some 
thousands without blankets and winter already begun. The 
ground was hard frozen, and again we hear that the army could 
have been tracked from White Marsh to the ford by the blood 
from their naked feet. 

They were prevented from crossing by a large British 
foraging party of about 4000 men on the other side of the river 
under Cornwallis, who was ravaging the farms along the Gulf 
Eoad, now familiar to suburban Philadelphians as a picturesque 
and pleasant drive. There was no battle, however, for the 
Americans moved three or four miles higher up the Schuylkill 

9 Stedman, " American War," vol. i, pp. 305, 306 ; Gordon, " American 
Revolution," vol. iii, p. 11; Greene, "Life of Nathanael Greene," p. 
534; W. B. Reed, "Life of Joseph Reed," vol. i, pp. 350, 351; Writings 
of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, pp. 238, 240; Boudinot's Journal, 
p: 50; Lee, Memoirs, vol. i, pp. 40-45, 120 note; J. J. Boudinot, "Life 
of Boudinot," vol. i, p. 68. 

"Howe, "Narrative," pp. 29, 30, and his letter to the Ministry, 
Parliamentary Register, House of Commons, 1779, vol. xi, p. 354. 



to Swedes Ford, and the next evening crossed the river and 
marched to the winter quarters that had been selected. 11 

There had been much discussion among the officers as to 
where the army should winter. Many were in favor of a line 
from Reading to Lancaster. Greene and Cadwalader favored 
"Wilmington. But Washington finally decided on a place much 
nearer Philadelphia; and on the 19th of December the army 
marched along the western bank of the Schuylkill to Valley 
Forge, where on a good-sized hill, very steep and almost 
unapproachable on its westerly or upper side, but gently 
sloping for a long distance to the eastward down the river, 
they began to establish themselves for the winter. They built 
huts of logs and spread the regiments in intrenched camps 
far down the slope along the river. On the hill itself, near the 
top, an intrenchment was dug, consisting of a ditch with the 
earth thrown up in front of it, and to this apparently, if at- 
tacked, they intended to retire for a last stand. 12 

It was an heroic but a very wretched, starved and ragged 
army which for the sake of their rights as men built those 
huts and dug those not very formidable trenches along the 
Schuylkill in the frost and snow of December. On the 23d 
of December, shortly after their arrival, Washington reported 
2898 men unfit for duty by reason of their being barefoot and 
otherwise naked. 13 

Howe settled himself and his army most comfortably and 
securely in Philadelphia, in entire indifference as to what had 
happened to poor Burgoyne in the North. Galloway, the loyal- 
ist, was made superintendent of police ; and with the reinforce- 

"Writings' of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, pp. 243-245 and 
note; Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, pp. 10-12; 
"Life of Pickering," p. 192. 

"Greene, "Life of Nathanael Greene," p. 535; W. B. Eeed, "Life 
of Joseph Reed," vol. i, pp. 348, 352; Writings of Washington, Ford 
edition, vol. vi, p. 233; Stedman, "American War/' vol. i, p. 307; Gordon, 
" American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, pp. 10-12. 

18 Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, p. 267. 



ments of 2500 received from New York, Howe's army now 
numbered about 20,000. 1 * 

People who had favored the patriot cause were still con- 
tinually dropping out of it ; and apparently Howe hoped that 
his post-holding method would keep up this disintegrating 
process until the patriot party and army fell to pieces. There 
was, indeed, much reason for this expectation. The patriot 
defence had completely broken down. Every event, Brandy- 
wine, Warren Tavern, the Schuylkill crossing, Germantown, 
Ked Bank and Mifflin, had ended in failure; and in the 
opinion of many nothing but the forbearance of Howe had 
kept Washington's army from extinction. The success of 
Gates in bringing Burgoyne to a surrender in the North ani- 
mated many patriots, but others could see no good result from 
it if everything failed in the South. 15 

In order to take advantage of this state of affairs, and pre- 
vent if possible a patriot alliance with France, General Howe, 
after he had established himself in Philadelphia, attempted 
another of his curious suggestions of compromise. He talked 
the subject over with Robert Morris's partner, Thomas Willing, 
who had undertaken to occupy a neutral position and advise 
both sides to withdraw from such a destructive war. Through 
Willing a certain John Brown, who had been in the employ of 
the firm of Morris and Willing, was sent out among the patriots 
to report the conversation Willing had had with Howe. The 
General was ready for some agreement or reconciliation; if 
independence were rescinded the colonies would be put back in 
their old condition before 1764 and given more privileges than 
they had asked; no standing army should be kept in America ; 
their paper currency should be established; and they need not 
lay down their arms until all this had been finally settled. 

14 G. W. Greene, "Life of Nathanael Greene/' vol. i, pp. 510, 532. 

"Graydon, Memoirs, edition of 1846, pp. 283, 284, and appendix ; 
Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, pp. 115-117 note; "Life 
of E. Gerry," pp. 268-272; W. B. Reed, "Life of Joseph Reed," vol. i, 
p. 358. 



This was the Whig program again; liberal treatment, 
generous privileges, and voluntary submission. But the patriots 
were not to be caught. They had learned that if they gave the 
least heed to such suggestions, it would be reported in France 
and deter the French Court from assisting them. Since the 
surrender of Burgoyne they were expecting very active aid 
from France, if not an alliance; but it would never be given 
unless they stood out for a complete separation from England. 
John Brown was accordingly arrested, confined and his mission 
ended. 1 * 

"Pennsylvania Colonial Records, vol. xi, pp. 345, 346; Pennsylvania 
Archives, vol. vi, pp. 25, 30, 36, 45. 



IN the spring of 1777, General Sclmyler had taken offence 
because the Congress, without consulting him, had dismissed 
one of his surgeons ; and he wrote them letters of sharp reproof, 
revealing that somewhat arrogant trait which caused his unpop- 
ularity among the New Englanders, The Congress by resolu- 
tion reminded him that his letters exceeded the limits of 
toleration and that for the future they must be more suited 
to the dignity of the cause and his own character as an officer. 
Some months later he explained the expressions in his letters, 
and this is supposed to have been preparatory to his appoint- 
ment in May to the command of the whole northern depart- 
ment, Albany, Ticonderoga and Fort Stanwix. 

The New Englanders in the Congress were bitterly opposed 
to his appointment; but they were outvoted; and the reason 
given by the majority, or New York party, for the ap- 
pointment was that in spite of his unfortunate man- 
ners, Schuyler was the only man who could keep the New York 
patriots united against the enemy. He was skilful also, it 
seems, in negotiating with the Six Nations of Indians. But he 
never took the field in active warfare and remained merely the 
general manager of the northern department, with Gates as 
his subordinate at the front. The two had now before them 
the task of resisting the great expedition from Canada which, 
during the summer of 1777, was to come southward by Lake 
Chainplain and the Hudson Valley to meet Howe going north 
from New York. 1 

The command of this important expedition had been given 

1 Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. ii, pp. 426, 
474, 475 ; Journals of Congress, Ford edition, vol. vii, p. 180. 



by the Ministry to General John Burgoyne, whose principal 
military experience had been as a cavalry officer. He was now 
fifty-six years old, seven years older than Howe and seventeen 
years older than Clinton. 2 When a young man of about thirty 
he had eloped with Lady Charlotte Stanley, and, neither of them 
having much means, he was obliged to leave the British army 
and live for seven years in Prance to economize. On his return 
he again entered the army and as a captain served under Marl- 
borough in 1758 in the attack on Cherbourg. 

Light cavalry were just being introduced in the British 
army and Burgoyne won the favor of the King by organizing 
this arm of the service and bringing it up to a high degree 
of efficiency, somewhat as Howe had distinguished himself by 
organizing the light infantry. But Burgoyne had very slight 
experience in the field compared with Howe. He was present 
at the attack on Belle Isle in 1761 as a volunteer without taking 
any very active or conspicuous part. The next year he com- 
manded a brigade in the war England waged to assist Portugal 
against France and Spain; and he carried a position of the 
enemy at Valentia by a brilliant charge. This campaign closed 
his active service in Europe and was sufficient to make him a 
man of distinction in London. He had already become a mem- 
ber of Parliament, and was a moderate Tory, who occasionally 
voted against Lord North and the Ministry, but was with them 
in their measures against America. 

Favored by the King we now find him rising rapidly in 
life and acquiring wealth from those appointments and sine- 
cures which were in the power of the Crown to bestow. He 
spoke well in Parliament. He had a tone of chivalry and in- 
tegrity, and certainly was not sordid in his pursuit of wealth. 
His letters, whether of business or pleasure, were models of 
the delicate compliment and exalted sentiment which were part 
of the proprieties of the time. He wrote vers de societe, and 

a l give Burgoyne's age in accordance with his biographer, Fon- 
blanque, who says he was born in 1722. His birth has sometimes been 
given as in 1730. 



those epilogues and prologues which were then considered such 
an important part of a play. Some of his best were written 
for the private theatrical entertainments of noblemen. As a 
writer of plays he achieved a very great success. His "Maid of 
the Oaks," first produced at Drury Lane in 1774, enjoyed a 
great popularity for many years and remained a stock piece 
for the English theatres far down into the next century. 

Macaulay's summary of him is perfect, "a man of wit, 
fashion and honor, an agreeable dramatic writer, and an officer 
whose courage was never questioned and whose skill was at 
that time highly esteemed." The American opinion of him was 
expressed by Pickering when he said that he was "supposed 
to have ability, but to be sanguine and precipitate and puffed 
up with vanity, which failings may lead him into traps that 
may undo him." He led in London a delightful life of pleas- 
ure and duty. He was prominent and admired for his talents 
and conversation; his acquaintance was eagerly sought by the 
gay and fashionable; and he was connected with important 
events and measures in a way to see and understand without 
being responsible for results. He had had no desire to serve in 
America when the war broke out and if it had been possible, 
would have refused. 3 

In ability one might at first be inclined to class him with 
those British officers who in modern times win strings of 
medals in wars against East Indians or Zulus, but utterly fail 
against a white race like the Boers of South Africa until res- 
cued by overwhelming numbers and the unlimited expenditure 
of wealth. But such a reflection hardly does justice to Bur- 
goyne, whose men and officers seem to have believed in him, 
and whose failure was due to extraordinary circumstances and 
the shortcomings of others rather than to himself. But suc- 
cess is so much a test of military ability, that it would be diffi- 
cult to build up again among Englishmen the reputation of 

8 See generally Fonblanque, "Life of Burgoyne; " "Life of Picker- 
ing," p. 150. 



the man who was the first British officer to surrender an army 
to rebels and militiamen. 

It has usually been supposed that Carleton would have 
been a better officer for such a difficult undertaking. But he 
seems to have been out of favor and never was given command 
in the rebellious colonies, until, the Revolution being over, he 
was made commander-in-chief and put in charge of the evacu- 
ation of New York. His failure to take Ticonderoga in the 
autumn of 1776 and his kindness to American prisoners have 
been given as reasons for the Ministry's refusal to advance 
him; and it has also been said that having been a witness 
against Germain in his trial for cowardice at Minden and hav- 
ing refused to appoint upon his staff a certain favorite of Ger- 
main, that distinguished minister entertained for him so bitter 
a dislike that he would have had him recalled from Canada if 
the King had not interfered for his protection. 4 

Burgoyne, however, seems to have enjoyed a fair amount of 
ministerial favor. They gave him about 7000 regular troops, 
nearly half of whom were German Brunswickers, under their 
own officers Baron Riedesel and General Specht. Besides these 
he had a couple of hundred Canadians and loyalists and about 
four hundred Indians, making in all about eight thousand. An 
excellent train of brass field artillery was furnished him; his 
equipment was in every respect the best of the times ; and his 
subordinate officers, Frazer, Eiedesel, Power and Hamilton, 
were of much more than usual efficiency. 5 

The plan of the campaign contemplated two expeditions. 
There was the main one under Burgoyne himself, which was to 
proceed through Lake Champlain and Lake George, and a 

* Fonblanque, "Life of Burgoyne," pp. 225-228; Jones, " Histoiy of 
York in the Revolution," vol. i, pp. 199, 336; Walpole, "Journal 
of the Reign of George III," vol. ii, p. 135. 

a Burgoyne, "State of the Expedition from Canada," second Lon- 
don edition No. 12 ; St. Glair Papers, vol. i, p. 60 ; Gordon, " American 
Revolution," edition 1788, vol. ii, pp. 476, 578; Jones, "New York in 
the Revolution," vol. i, pp. 198, 677; Fonblanque, "Life of Burgoyne," 
pp. 240, 488. 



smaller expedition which was to go up the St. Lawrence and along 
the shore of Lake Ontario to Oswego, take the patriot strong- 
hold Fort Stanwix, and then come down the Mohawk River 
so as to attack the flank or , rear of any patriot force advancing 
to intercept Burgoyne. St. Leger was given command of this 
expedition against Fort Stanwix with a force of about 800 
regulars, loyalists, Canadians and Indians. 

Burgoyne set out up Lake Champlain on the 17th of June, 
and encamped at Crown Point, where he met the Indians for 
a grand conference. Carleton from motives of humanity was 
opposed to employing the Indians, which may have been another 
reason for his unpopularity with the Ministry. But Burgoyne 
had express instructions to use them, and he gave them a 
great war feast and addressed them in a set speech in which 
he explained that they must not kill prisoners, especially old 
men, women and children, that they must not scalp the 
"wounded, or indeed any one unless they had slain him in fair 
fight. This was intended to quiet public feeling and bring the 
savages within what are supposed to be the amenities of civil- 
ized warfare. 

There was no fort or army to oppose Burgoyne until he 
reached old Ticonderoga. He had an easy and even delightful 
march to that place, passing the enormous flocks of wild pigeons 
then on their way to Canada, and on which his troops at times 
subsisted. On the 2nd of July as he approached Ticonderoga 
he issued a grandiloquent proclamation announcing the terrors 
of war for rebels, the royal clemency for the repentant, and his 
Majesty's intention to restore the rights of the British Consti- 
tution and deliver America from the tyranny of revolutionary 
committees, " arbitrary imprisonment, confiscation and torture 
imprecedented in the inquisition of the Romish Church/ 7 It 
was such a labored and pompous effort, that the Americans 
easily ridiculed it and soon clever parodies of it appeared in 
print. 6 

8 Niles, "Principles and Acts of the Revolution," edition 1876, pp. 
178-180, 197; Anburey, "Travels," vol. i, pp. 275, 309. 



But Burgoyne, no doubt, thought it in entire keeping with 
his victorious progress, for at Ticonderoga he met with a great 
and unexpected success. . The patriot general, St. Clair, who 
was in command had some time before made up his mind that 
Ticonderoga indefensible. It, is true there was the fort 
itself, and Mount Independence also fortified across the narrow 
strip of water, and there was a floating bridge with obstructions 
to navigation not yet quite completed. But all these, it seems, 
were useless because Sugar Hill, which had not been fortified, 
looked down upon and commanded them all. If the enemy 
occupied Sugar Hill they could shoot down into the works of 
both Ticonderoga and Mount Independence. All this St. Clair 
had tested by planting a cannon on Sugar Hill a few months 
before and trying the experiment. 

So the boasted defences of Ticonderoga, the supposed ram- 
part against invasion from Canada, were no defences at all. 
St. Clair, with only 2500 continental troops and 900 militia, had 
too few to occupy and defend Sugar Hill as well as the fort and 
Mount Independence. He therefore abandoned his post after 
resisting for a time the first approach of the British. He 
did this on the advice of a council of war, among his officers. 
It was best, they thought, to save their troops rather than sur- 
render them prisoners or sacrifice them. They preferred to 
escape with them and march them farther south, where they 
would still be between the enemy and the rest of the country, 
and where militia and recruits could rally to them and make 
a new stand. 

This sudden revelation of the weakness of Ticonderoga 
caused great surprise in both America and England. People 
in England wondered why Carleton had not taken it in the 
previous year; and in America there was great indignation 
against St. Clair for his sudden evacuation of the stronghold 
of the North and abandonment of the immense supplies of 
cannon and ammunition which had beein stored there. His rea- 
sons and excuses were not accepted and he was charged with 
inefficiency and cowardice. 

He was finally tried by a- court-martial which acquitted 



him of all blame ; and there seems every reason to believe that 
it was better to abandon Ticonderoga and save his men than 
to sacrifice them in a hopeless defence. Three years afterwards 
General Lincoln was placed in a similar position in Charleston, 
and took the opposite course. He stayed in the town, attempted 
to defend it and lost his men as well as the town. 

General Schuyler was court-martialed for neglect of duty 
in being absent from Ticonderoga when St. Clair evacuated it. 
This was the culmination of ill feeling against him. The court 
at his request investigated his whole conduct of the northern 
campaign, and unanimously acquitted him with the highest 
honor. 7 

The error of allowing Ticonderoga to be commanded by a 
hill which the enemy could occupy was one, Wilkinson said, 
that had been made at Fort Pitt by the engineers of that time. 
Tieonderoga had been neglected by Congress and by everybody. 
Schuyler was quarrelling with the Congress; incompetent or 
careless subordinates were in the North, and there was a general 
lack of spirit and energy. Schuyler was mistaken as to the 
supposed strength of the place, and his confident letters misled 
Washington and the patriot leaders. The condition of affairs 
was no doubt made worse by an opinion, supposed to have been 
encouraged by British emissaries, that after all there was not 
much danger of an attack from Canada by way of Lake Cham- 
plain. The movements from that direction, it was said, were 
mere feints to conceal the real purpose, which was to send Bur- 
goyne *s army round by sea to join Howe at New York. This 
was the more readily believed because it seemed to be a wiser 
plan. The two armies of Burgoyne and Howe united a/t New 
York could proceed up the Hudson to Lake Champlain and 
control that whole strategic line more effectually and with less 
risk than by Burgoyne coming down from the North to meet 
Howe going up from the South. All their efforts would be 
concentrated. So long as they remained united they could not 

T Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vii, p. 303 note. 

forf^v oriskany Saratoga 

Stanuitx ^vqj PAW la TTAiVhta' 

PENNSYLVANIA f^^ ^Montgomery 



be defeated and they would be able to attack Washington or 
make any other expedition. 8 

St. Clair's retreat from Ticonderoga was intended to be an 
orderly one. The evacuation was decided upon by the council 
at 3 in the afternoon of the 5th of July, and was to take place 
that night. They had to be prompt, for the British, who seemed 
to know the ground perfectly, were already clearing a road and 
getting their artillery on Sugar Hill, and the next day they 
would both command and surround the American position. St. 
Clair's troops prepared eight days' provisions to carry with 
them and marched out of Ticonderoga at 2 o'clock in the morn- 
ing, in silence and good order. But an hour later when General 
Fennoy abandoned Mount Independence, he set fire to his 
house, which, lighting up the whole mountain, enabled the Brit- 
ish to discover the retreat of the Americans. 

Alarmed by knowing that they were discovered the retreat 
of St. Clair's men came very near being a rout ; and it was with 
great difficulty that he restored order among them. He 
marched some thirty miles during the day and stopped at 
Castleton while his rearguard under Colonel Warner remained 
several miles behind him at Hubbardton, or Huberton as it was 
called. The next morning a pursuing body of British under 
General Frazer attacked Warner, who was much weakened by 
the desertion of one of his regiments under Colonel Hale. With 
only about seven hundred men Warner made a good fight 
and withstood the British so resolutely and with such good 
marksmanship, that they gave way. They formed again and, 
relying on their bayonets, put the inferior number of Americans 
to rout, which was increased by the arrival of a body of Bruns- 
wickers under Baron Riedesel. 

This was the Battle of Hubbardton, which, though nothing 

8 St. Clair Papers, vol. i, pp. 46-54, 61-81; Writings of Washing- 
ton, Ford edition, vol. v, pp. 336 note, 442 note, 459, 461, 467, 469, 472, 
475, 477, 485, 488, 490, 501, 502, 503, 517, 520-522; vol. vi, pp. 1, 2, 5, 13, 
18, 28, 45; Gordon, "American Revolution/' edition 1788, vol. ii, pp. 
479-492; Wilkinson, "Memoirs," vol. i, pp. 167, 169, 181-185, 191; 
Anburey, "Travels," vol. i y pp. 319-340. 



but a rearguard action, was, nevertheless, counted by Burgoyne 
as one of his signal victories. St. Glair gave no support to his 
rearguard, principally, it is said, because the two militia regi- 
ments that were nearest would not obey his orders and the 
rest were too far away. His army was in a deplorably disor- 
ganized state, and two days afterwards while continuing his 
retreat he found two regiments of New England militia so 
disorderly, and so addicted to plundering, that he dismissed 
them from the army. 

Meantime; while General Frazer was pursuing St. Glair by 
land, Burgoyne was pursuing by water. Cutting through the 
boom and obstructions which had been set in the narrow passage 
at Ticonderoga, his gun-boats and some of his larger vessels 
passed through loaded with troops and went up to Skenes- 
borough sweeping everything before them, and forcing a precipi- 
tate retreat of the Americans, who blew up or burnt their boats, 
forts and mills and retreated up Wood Creek to Port Anne, 
where General Schuyler, who was now directing the retreat, 
ordered the scattered army to collect. 

General Burgoyne sent Colonel Hill with his regiment to 
watch this American rendezvous at Fort Anne ; and on the .8th 
of July the Americans attacked him, drove him to a hill where 
they besieged him for two hours and might have signally de- 
feated him. But, hearing the warwhoop and believing the 
British to be reinforced by Indians, they, unwisely perhaps, 
abandoned their attack, set fire to Fort Anne and retreated to 
General Schuyler at Fort Edward. The warwhoop, it is- said, 
was a clever imitation by the British and there were no Indians. 

Burgoyne was certainly having a magnificent success. He 
had forced the great northern barrier, and penetrated 'far to the 
south of it, driving his enemy before him. He had destroyed or 
captured 128 pieces of patriot artillery as well as vast sup- 
plies of flour and beef. St. Glair had joined Schuyler at Fort 
Edward, where they found that the remains of their beaten 
forces amounted to only about 4400 men. 

Burgoyne had now the choice of two routes down to Albany. 
He could have returned to Ticonderoga, it is said, and carried 



his army on boats through Lake George, thence by portages 
to Fort Edward, "driven the Americans from it in four days and 
in a week more' he would' have reached Albany. But instead of 
taking what seemed to be this rapid passage by water, he began 
to construct a road through the woods from Skenesborough to 
Fort Edward. It was a half wilderness, rough country of creeks, 
marshes and woodland trails, and the Americans had fellecl 
trees across these trails. Besides clearing the roads and trails 
of these obstructions, Burgoyne had to build forty new bridges 
besides repairing old ones; and one of his new bridges was a 
causeway two miles long across a swamp. 

His enemies afterwards fixed upon this as the great mis- 
take of Ms campaign which caused all his subsequent disasters. 
He exhausted his men and horses, they said, and consumed three 
weeks of precious time to reach Fort Edward which had no 
fortifications and could have been reached by water in a few 
days. He had fallen, it was said, under the influence of a cer- 
tain Colonel Skene, a rich land-owner and loyalist of that 
region, the proprietor of Skenesborough, now Whitehall, near 
the southern end of Lake Champlain. Skene was a thrifty 
Scotchman, who had served during the French "War in the 
Lake Champlain region. He became so enamored of it that 
he had obtained a grant of 25,000 acres from the government, 
and began to establish a great estate and domain like that of 
the Schuyler family further south. He had volunteered in 
Burgoyne 's expedition, and now, they said, recommended to him 
this military road with its forty new bridges which would ren- 
der his great estate more valuable by many thousand pounds. 9 

But in his examination before Parliament, Burgoyne seems 
to have disproved this whole story. He could not have gone 
to Fort Edward by water any faster than he went by the new 
road and forty bridges. He had not vessels enough to use the 

"Jones, "New York in the Revolution," vol. i, pp. 201-203, 692; 
Gordon, "American Revolution/' edition 1788, vol. ii, pp. 487, 489; 
Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. v, p. 486; Stedman, "Amer- 
ican War," vol. i, p. 324; Anburey, " Travels," vol. i, p. 345. 
Vol. II 5 65 


water route ; those lie had were all in use carrying his provisions 
by the water route; and in conveying the provisions to Fort 
Edward they spent all the time that the troops spent in cutting 
the road to that place. 10 

The Americans evacuated Fort Edward on the 30th of July ; 
and Burgoyne was still sweeping everything before him. A 
large part of the patriot army had deserted and gone to their 
homes. Those that remained were so disorganized, dispirited, 
and jealous of one another, that they could scarcely retreat in 
an orderly manner with the enemy twenty miles behind them. 

* Burgoyne, "State of the Expedition from Canada," pp. 17, 53, 
54, 98, 126; Fonblanque, "Life of Burgoyne," pp. 264, 267, 268, 269. 
Lamb, in his Journal of the American War, p. 142, says that no Indians 
arrived at the engagement at Fort Ann. Their arrival was merely 
imitated by a British officer who gave the warwhoop. 



BURGOYNE having taken Ticonderoga, the northern gateway, 
and pressed on down to Fort Edward, had no fortified places 
to oppose his march southward to the Hudson Highlands at 
West Point, which was the southern military gateway of the 
Hudson Valley. All that was needed to complete his success 
was that Howe should now be coming up the Hudson, taking 
West Point as Ticonderoga had been taken, and moving on to 
Albany, where there seemed to be nothing to prevent Burgoyne 
effecting a junction with him. 

But where was Howe ? On the 23d of July when Burgoyne, 
having brought up his tents and baggage, was moving down on 
Fort Edward, Howe, as already related, sailed out of New York 
harbor with his 18,000 men and went south to Chesapeake Bay, 
abandoning Burgoyne and the plan of conquest which he had 
himself approved and described as the prime object of that 
year's campaign. 

If Burgoyne had known the real situation, had known that 
instead of coming up to join him, Howe had deliberately in- 
capacitated himself from effecting a junction by taking nearly 
his whole army by sea to Chesapeake Bay, there would have 
been only one course for Burgoyne, and in spite of his instruc- 
tions he would probably have followed it. He would have 
beat an instant retreat back to Ticonderoga or -possibly back 
to Canada, while the chance remained. 1 

Both he and his men were relying implicitly upon ample 
support from Howe. The whole make-up of their expedition, 

1 His instructions are printed in "State of the Expedition from 
Canada," Appendix 4. 



its numbers, equipment and route were based upon Howe's 
coming up to meet them in full force. The 8000 troops of the 
expedition were not numerous enough to reach Albany, main- 
tain themselves there and at the same time defend a long line 
of communication of over two hundred miles back to Canada. 
They were already so scattered by leaving a garrison at Ticon- 
deroga and detailing men to guard supply trains and defend 
the line of communication, that there were scarcely 3000 left 
for an advance force. 

While it was true that the patriots demoralized by the sud- 
den evacuation of Ticonderoga had retreated in disorder, yet 
they soon would be returning ; militia would be summoned from 
all over New England in sufficient numbers to overwhelm 3000 
regulars or cut to pieces their long line of communication and 
starve them to death. Nothing could prevent this save Howe 
coming up the Hudson in force, especially if he had first sent 
a detachment to threaten or attack the coast of New England 
and keep as many as possible of the militia at home. This was 
the original plan agreed upon between Howe and the Ministry. 

Howe was by no means ignorant of the present situation 
of the northern expedition. On the 17th of July, six days be- 
fore he sailed from New York for Chesapeake Bay, he wrote a 
letter to Burgoyne saying that he had received certain letters 
from him and had heard of his victory at Ticonderoga; and 
then coolly informs him that he is not going to his assistance, 
but intends to invade Pennsylvania, leaving Sir Henry Clinton 
in New York to "act as circumstances may direct." He says 
nothing about any diversion upon the New England coast to 
stop the movement of the militia and as a matter of fact he 
made none. Clinton, whom he left in New York, had barely 
enough men to defend the town and could not make the slightest 
movement to assist Burgoyne unless some 1700 reinforcements 
should arrive from Europe. 2 

Howe has frequently been defended on the ground that no 

8 See Howe's letter in full in " State of the Expedition from Canada," 
Appendix No. 10. 



peremptory written instructions were sent, to him to go up the 
Hudson in force to join Burgoyne; and he was left entirely 
to his own discretion. The story has often been told that 
peremptory instructions were drafted, but not ready for sig- 
nature, when Germain was on the point of leaving town for his 
country seat. He left word to send them to him to be signed ; 
but it was neglected; he forgot all about them, and they were 
never sent. This curious incident was first made public in 1875, 
when the Life of William, Earl of Shelburne, was published. 
It was so like some turn in a play or novel, and seemed to por- 
tray Germain as such a -worthless and amateurish statesman, 
that writers have gladly accepted it as an easy and short ex- 
planation of the whole subject. 3 

It is difficult, however, to see how this omission to send 
peremptory orders could alter Howe's responsibility. If the 
omission left him free to use his discretion then he used his 
discretion very badly. As commander-in-chief in America, 
3000 miles away, he was bound to act for the best under all 
circumstances, without peremptory instructions. He was given 
discretionary power because he would be a better judge of 
military movements than the Ministry. He had never been put 
under peremptory instructions in military matters. He had 
been given full discretion. He knew the object to be attained ; 
he had been supplied with all the information possessed by the 
Ministry; given a general outline -of their plans; and left to 
act as he thought best. This was the common and necessary 

8 Jones, "New York in the Revolution," vol. i, p. 696. In one of 
'his plays, "The Devil's Disciple," and a note appended to it, Mr. 
Bernard Shaw has developed in a very entertaining way this explanation 
'of Howe's conduct. 

The omission to send peremptory orders to Howe was perhaps not 
as accidental as has been supposed. General Eobertson testified hefore 
the committee of inquiry that he had urged upon Germain the importance 
of not crippling Howe's movements by positive instructions, and that 
Germain had acted on this advice, and had left Howe to act on his 
own discretion. Parliamentary ' Begister, House of Commons, 1779, vol. 
xiii, pp. 305, 323. 



method for commanders-in-chief when at such a distance from 
the home government. Under this rule Howe had evacuated 
Boston, fought the Battle of Long Island, occupied New York 
and remained inactive for the following winter. 

He was well aware of this ; and in his defence before Par- 
liament was careful not to rely on the absence of peremptory 
instructions. He mentions the absence of such instructions, 
but disclaims any reliance upon that point, and defends the 
movement he made to Philadelphia on purely military grounds 
as the best that could be done under the circumstances. 

Early in the year he had informed Germain that not having 
received the reinforcements he expected, he could not carry out 
the original plan of sending a strong force to New England, 
and another strong one to Pennsylvania to prevent the rebels 
massing at Lake Champlain, while he himself went up the Hud- 
son to effect a junction with the expedition from Canada. He 
could only, he said, make the expedition to Pennsylvania. 4 But 
although Germain received this information before Burgoyne's 
expedition started, and it might be said that, therefore, there 
was no obligation on the commander in America to go up the 
Hudson, Howe very astutely refused to place his defence on any 
such shaky ground as Germain's implied approval of the Phila- 
delphia expedition. He merely called attention to that pos- 
sibly implied approval for the sake of any effect it might have 
on certain minds, and again fell back on the purely military 
merit of his conduct. 

" And here, Sir, although I might shelter myself from this violent 
charge by referring to the complete approbation as well as acquiescence 
of the Secretary of State, and might answer every objection by the 
short observation that the reasons for adopting this expedition (to 
Philadelphia) are adjudged by his Lordship to be solid and decisive; 
yet am I content to waive that justification and to stand entirely upon 
the merits and policy of the measure itself." (Howe's Narrative, p. 

* Parliamentary Eegister, House of Commons, 1779, vol. xi, pp. 261, 
362, 389, 404 j American Archives, 5th series, vol. iii, pp. 926, 1318. 



As a matter of fact Germain did not approve of the Phila- 
delphia expedition to the exclusion of a junction with Burgoyne ; 
for Germain, as we have seen, finally wrote to Howe, saying 
that he hoped the Philadelphia expedition would be made in 
such a way as not to preclude assistance being sent to Burgoyne. 
Howe received this letter on the 16th of August, when he had 
reached the Chesapeake, But he made no attempt whatever to 
rescue Burgoyne or detach troops to his assistance. 5 

The Ministry, or indeed any one, would naturally have con- 
fidence that Howe, being precluded by lack of reinforcements 
from making all the three original expeditions, one into New 
England, one up the Hudson, and one to Philadelphia, would, 
without any special instructions, use what force he had in mak- 
ing the one which was of most importance and would most 
surely protect Burgoyne. No one ever thought that he would 
abandon both the New England and the Hudson movements and 
concentrate himself on the Philadelphia expedition ; and every- 
one in both America and England, and many of his own officers 
were astonished when he took this course. 

Sir Henry Clinton, in his manuscript notes to Stedman's 
" American War," says, "I owe it to truth to say there was 
not, I believe, a man in the army, except Lord Cornwallis and 
General Grant, who did not reprobate the move to the south- 
ward and see the necessity of a cooperation with General Bur- 
goyne." The patriots believed that such a junction would seal 
their fate. "Nothing under heaven can save us," wrote Trum- 
bull, "but the enemy's going to the southward." 6 

The first news of Howe's total change of plan reached Eng- 
land in August; and prominent men of both political parties 
saw at once that Burgoyne was doomed. Walpole describes 
the Ministry as greatly disturbed; and they are said to have 

8 Galloway, " A Reply to the Observations of General Howe," p. 45. 

'"Life of Peter Van Schaack," pp. 173-178; Clinton's MS. notes to 
Stedman's "American War," p. 289; De Lancets note to Jones's "New 
York in the Revolution," vol. i, p. 697; Galloway, "Reply to Observa- 
tions of Sir W. Howe;" "Remarks on General Burgoyne's State of the 
Expedition from Canada," London, 1780. 



hurriedly sent orders to Burgoyne not to advance beyond 
Albany until he could hear from and concert with Howe. 7 

"Lord George Germain owned to Lord Hertford, that General 
Howe has defeated all his views by going to Maryland instead of waiting 
to join Burgoyne, and that Clinton had not force enough at New York to 
send him any relief," (Fonblanque, "Life of Burgoyne/' p. 343,) 

Washington was keeping Howe's great army amused in 
Pennsylvania and at the same time detaching enough men to 
the North to take complete advantage of Burgoyne y s weak and 
isolated position. Howe, it was said, could have fought Wash- 
ington on the Hudson more effectively than one hundred miles 
away at Brandywine. 

In the desperation of his defence, Howe made the extraor- 
dinary argument, that even if he had gone up the Hudson 
in force, and succeeded in saving Burgoyne, that success "could 
not have been accomplished in time to have taken possession 
of Philadelphia, that campaign. " In other words, Burgoyne 
must be sacrificed for the sake of occupying Philadelphia. And 
in another argument, Howe says that if he had gone in full 
force to the assistance of Burgoyne, he would have been ac- 
cused of attempting to steal that officer's laurels. 

The subject is one which has always aroused a great variety 
of opinion. It has sometimes been said that all the facts and 
circumstances are consistent with entire honesty of purpose on 
the part of Howe. He may have merely made a great blunder, 
a gigantic mistake of judgment. But the mistake was so 
obvious and absurd, "so unaccountable," as Washington called 
it, 8 that, when people considered Howe's high ability and intelli- 
gence in all other matters, many of them very naturally refused 
to believe that it could be a mere mistake. They believed that 
beneath it lay some ulterior purpose of Whig politics, an un- 
willingness in the Whig general to allow Tory Burgoyne and 

T Walpole, " Journal of Reign of George III/' vol. ii, p. 132. 

8 "Howe's in a manner abandoning Burgoyne is so unaccountable 
a matter that till I am fully assured of it I cannot help casting my 
eyes continually behind me." Writings of Washington, Ford edition, 
vol. v, p. 520. 



the Tory Ministry to make a great stroke and settle the war 
in a way that was not the way of Howe and the Whig, party $ 
and this feeling was strengthened when it was seen that all 
the rest of Howe's conduct during the war bore this same 
suspicious cast. 

In one part of his defence as regards Burgoyne, there is 
an argument which at first sight seems to have some weight. He 
says that he assumed that as the Ministry had sent out Bur- 
goyne they must have given him a sufficiently large force to 
enable him to penetrate to Albany and hold it without any more 
assistance than drawing off Washington to Pennsylvania, In 
fact, Howe affected to believe that Burgoyne could conquer 
both New York and New Jersey, and in his letter to Burgoyne 
he assumes that that officer will be able to conquer Connecticut 
as well as New York; for he says, "My wishes are, that the 
enemy be driven out of this province before any operation 
takes place in Connecticut." 

This sounds somewhat plausible if we assume that Howe was 
totally ignorant of Burgoyne 's numbers and instructions. But 
like the rest of his defence, it will not bear a moment's close 
investigation. He knew all about Burgoyne 's numbers and 
instructions as well as his condition and progress. He admitted 
that he had received a copy of the instructions which Carleton 
was directed to give Burgoyne and in those instructions the 
brigades and regiments which Burgoyne was to take with him 
are particularly described and their numbers given as 7173. 9 

If Howe knew anything at all, he knew that it was utterly 
impossible for 7173 regulars to penetrate as far as Albany, 
hold that town and protect a line of communication of over 
two hundred miles back to Canada unless he supported them 
by coming up the Hudson in strong force. In other parts of 
his defence Howe continually complains of the dangers of the 
long distances in America, that it was impossible to penetrate 
any distance inland even with his own large force of 30,000, and 
he was always calling for reinforcements. That he should affect 

9 " State of the Expedition from Canada," Appendix No. 4, p. xv. 



to believe that those 7173 regulars under Burgoyne could alone 
and unaided by his army conquer the whole province of New 
York and possibly New Jersey, with a side expedition into 
Connecticut, was a piece of cool effrontery which would surely 
have been exposed if the investigation into his conduct had not 
been cut short by the sudden adjournment of Parliament. 

Those same instructions in their second paragraph com- 
manded Carleton to direct Burgoyne "to proceed with all pos- 
sible expedition to join General Howe and to put himself under 
his command " After describing the force to be given Bur- 
goyne, the instructions direct Carleton "to give him orders 
to pass Lake Champlain ; and from thence, by the most vigorous 
exertion of the force under his command, to proceed with all 
expedition to Albany and put himself under the command of 
Sir William Howe." Until the juncture with Howe was 
effected, Burgoyne and St. Leger are to act as "exigencies may 
require; but in so doing they must never lose sight of their 
intended junctures with Sir William Howe as their principal 
objects. ' ' 

All this Howe had read in the copy of the instructions which 
he admitted he had received ; and having that knowledge in his 
mind it is difficult to see why he should need anything more 
peremptory or anything which more clearly put upon him the 
duty of assisting Burgoyne by going up the Hudson to meet 

But he had not done so ; he was far away down in the Chesa- 
peake, and Burgoyne, under binding instructions to press south- 
ward to meet him, was moving on in pathetic ignorance of what 
fate had in store. He had sent word back to Carleton for rein- 
forcements to garrison Ticonderoga, and protect his communi- 
cations so that he could use his whole force in proceeding south- 
ward. But Carleton was confined by his instructions to the 
defence of Canada and refused to act outside of his own 
department. 10 

ie Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. v, p. 510 note; Bur- 
goyne, " State of the Expedition from Canada," p. 30. 



In modern times an attempt has been made to give a short 
and easy explanation of Howe's abandonment of Burgoyne by 
supposing that he was influenced by that extraordinary charac- 
ter, General Charles Lee, then a prisoner in his hands. Lee, it 
seems, drew up a plan of campaign recommending a British 
movement to the southward and a general occupation of Chesa- 
peake Bay, as the surest way to end the American rebellion. 
This plan was dated the 29th of March, 1777, and was found 
among the papers of Howe's private secretary many years after 
the Eevolution. 

But the mere fact of the plan being found among the sec- 
retary 's papers is no proof that Howe was influenced by it and 
is not even proof that he ever saw it. Moreover, he had formed 
the plan of going to Philadelphia early in the winter before 
Christmas, and many months before the date of the plan. 

We also find, when we read the plan, that it does not recom- 
mend the move to Philadelphia which Howe made. In fact, 
it pointedly disapproves of taking Philadelphia. "In my 
opinion/' Lee says in it, " the taking possession of Philadelphia 
will not have any decisive consequences. " The plan then goes on 
to recommend the occupation of the well-known strategic posi- 
tion of the Chesapeake, seizing Alexandria in Virginia and 
Annapolis in Maryland, because "if the province of Maryland 
or the greater portion of it is reduced or submits, and the 
people of Virginia are prevented or intimidated from marching 
aid to the Pennsylvania army, the whole machine is dissolved, 
and a period put to the war." 11 

Howe was notoriously indifferent to advice or suggestion. 
There is no evidence whatever that he was in any way influ- 
enced by the Lee plan ; and he certainly did not follow it. If 
it came to his attention he probably tossed it aside and his 
secretary may have preserved it as an interesting curiosity, 
coming from a treacherous man. Howe worked out his own 

""The Treason of Charles Lee," by George H. Moore, 1860, New 
York Historical Society Collections, 1874, vol. ir, p. 406; Tiske, 
"American Revolution/' illustrated edition, vol. i, p. 309. 



plants and was not moved by the suggestions of a scared pris- 
oner who offered a plan of no military merit. 

As it has been difficult to find good military reasons for 
Howe's conduct, and as it has been deemed inadvisable to dis- 
close the political reasons given by Galloway and the loyalists, 
and the evidence that was before the committee of inquiry, the 
historians have strained hard to invent other explanations, and 
the boldest one of all has been adopted by Bancroft, who 
assigns General Carleton as the cause of all the trouble. Carle- 
ton, he says, originated the expedition from Canada. He was 
ambitious to come down from Canada into the rebellious 
colonies and take the supreme command. Howe refused to 
assist the expedition from Canada because it might be com- 
manded by Carleton, who, when he arrived in New York, 
would outrank Howe and supersede him. The discovery or 
suspicion of this design on the part of Carleton is supposed to 
have led Howe to announce to Germain that he would not assist 
the northern movement down Lake Champlain, 12 

"Bancroft, "History of the United States," edition of 1886, vol. v, 
p. 147. Still another explanation, originating in Harry Lee's Memoirs, 
has been given in Dr. E. E. Hale's "One Hundred Years Ago," and 
repeated in Trevelyan's " American Kevolution," vol. i, p. 338, that Howe 
was so scared by his experience at Bunker Hill that he became cautious 
and could never follow any plan except that of occupying towns. Lee, 
Memoirs, vol. ii, p. 368. 



WHILE Burgoyne had been fighting his way to Fort 
Edward, St. Leger and his force of 700 British and 1000 In- 
dians had worked their way round on the westward by Lake 
Ontario, and on the 3rd of August they invested Fort Stan- 
wix, which was in command of Colonel Gansevoort, but in a 
very weak state of defence. General Herkimer with 700 militia 
collected along the Mohawk, went to its relief, and reached the 
mouth of the Oriskany, where it flows into the Mohawk. The 
next day he fell into an ambuscade of Indians, which St. 
Leger had set for him, was mortally wounded and his com- 
mand defeated. But some of his men made such an obstinate 
resistance in this action, which is now known as the Battle of 
the Oriskany, that the loyalists and Indians were thrown into 
confusion and began killing one another. 

Some of the garrison of Fort Stanwix sallied out and 
routed two of the Indian and loyalist encampments, capturing 
their provisions, tomahawks, spears and deer skins. The In- 
dians were greatly disgusted, for they had lost seventy of their 
number and among them several of their best chiefs and war- 
riors. But in spite of this loss among the British, the Herkimer 
relief party had been in effect defeated and St. Leger tried 
for several days to persuade the garrison to surrender. 

Meantime, two of the garrison, skilful woodsmen, slipped 
out of the fort in the night and crawled on their bellies for 
half a mile, until they were clear of the lines of the besieging 
Indians and British, when, with nothing to eat but black- 
berries, they made a rapid journey to General Schuyler at 
Stillwater. General Arnold, who had recently joined the 
northern army, at once volunteered to lead a rescue party to 



Fort Stanwix. But his numbers were so few compared with 
St. Leger 's that he had little hope Of success, except by some 
stratagem that would deprive St. Leger of the assistance of 
the Indians. 

A curious half-witted Dutchman, Hon Yost, had a brother 
who was about to be hanged for offensive loyalism, Arnold 
agreed to pardon the loyalist if the half-witted brother, who 
was regarded with superstitious awe by the Indians, would 
go among them and describe the enormous number of the 
American forces that were about to attack them. Hon Tost 
carried out his mission most successfully, and told how he had 
barely escaped from the Americans, as the bullet holes through 
his -coat testified. Soon after an Indian arrived and confirmed 
the story, and then a third arrived with a tale that Burgoyne's 
army was cut to pieces and that Arnold was advancing by 
forced marches with 3000 men. The whole encampment of sav- 
ages at once prepared for flight. St. Leger plied them with 
drink; but they would not stay. He had promised them an 
easy victory, they said, and instead of that their best men had 
been killed. 

Having lost his Indian allies there was nothing for St. 
Leger to do but to retreat with them ; and they amused them- 
selves by hurrying his retreat. Every few miles one of their 
number would come running from the rear crying, "They are 
coming, they are coming. " Whereupon the white men would 
take to their heels ; some of them throwing away their packs ; 
their commanders, St. Leger and Sir John Johnson, stumbling 
and falling over logs while the Indians enjoyed the joke. At 
intervals St. Leger and Johnson quarrelled, each blaming their 
misfortune on the other until they drew their swords and 
would have fought if the Indian chiefs had not interceded. 1 

1 Arnold, "Life of General Arnold," pp. 149-162; Burgoyne, "State 
of the Expedition from Canada," Appendix No. 13 ; . Gordon, " American 
Kevolution," edition 1788, vol. ii, pp. 529-535; Jones, "New York in 
the Revolution," vol. i, pp. 215-218, 700; G-entlemaris Magazine, March, 



Possibly Carleton knew what he was about when he dis- 
approved of employing the Indians. The St. Leger expedition 
had been planned, in one respect, on a good theory. The point 
where the Mohawk flowed into the Hudson was a natural rally- 
ing place for any patriot force which Burgoyne would drivo 
southward from the lakes. By coming down the Mohawk, St. 
Leger would attack the flank of this patriot force which would 
be assailed by Burgoyne in front and by Howe in the rear. 
But St. Leger ? s force was too small to be isolated when all its 
success depended on the exact timing of its arrival near Albany 
to support both Burgoyne and Howe. The distances were too 
great and the circumstances too uncertain for such delicate 
movements; and now, on the 22d of August, St. Leger was 
wiped out of the campaign and Fort Stanwix saved for the 

Early in August the astounding and unwelcome intelligence 
of St. Glair's evacuation of Ticonderoga and Burgoyne 's ad- 
vance to within sixty miles of Albany, had reached the patriot 
party all over the country, and the Congress and the leaders 
had begun to prepare for some decided action. Earlier in the 
summer and up to August, the uncertain movements of Howe 
at New York had kept the New Englanders in great anxiety 
lest he should make a sudden descent on Boston or some other 
part of their coast. This uneasiness helps to explain why the 
New England regiments so readily deserted St. Glair and 
Schuyler, and why Burgoyne had met with so little resistance. 
But in August it became known that Howe had taken his 
army far to the southward, and that New England was safe 
from any attack. It was, therefore, quite evident that if the 
militia of New Hampshire and Vermont, being close to Bur- 
goyne 's flank and rear, should assail him at those points, he 
would be taken at a great disadvantage, his lines of communi- 
cation might be cut and his army isolated. 

Washington accordingly sent General Lincoln to Massa- 
chusetts to collect the New England militia and mass them on 
Burgoyne *s flank, which would in any event stop his further 



progress. Lincoln was. a native of New England, and not so 
much, disliked in that region as Schuyler. He at once found 
nearly a thousand men ready to march, and this number was 
rapidly increased. 

Most of these fresh troops were from New Hampshire, 
under the command and influence of General Stark, who since 
his service at the Battle of Bunker Hill had considered him- 
self slighted and neglected by the Congress. He also had no 
liking for Sehuyler, and would not take command in the 
patriot cause unless he had the privilege of conducting an inde- 
pendent New Hampshire expedition. 

Schuyler was calling on both Lincoln and Stark to join 
him in a front attack upon Burgoyne, which they both refused 
to do because they thought that the flank and rear attack was 
the better. The Congress at the same time attempted to settle 
the difficulty and bring Stark and Lincoln to terms, and most 
of August passed away in this wrangle. 

Fortunately Burgoyne was quiet in the neighborhood of Fort 
Edward all this time waiting for supplies from Canada. They 
were so long coming, because of an insufficient number of draft 
horses, that he grew very impatient, and when he heard of a 
patriot supply of corn and cattle only a few miles to the 
eastward at Bennington, Vermont, he resolved to seize them. 

General Eiedesel, writing after the war, describes himself 
as strongly protesting against this Bennington expedition ; but 
Burgoyne denied that any protests were made, except such as 
expressed a wish on Eiedesel's part for the command of the 
expedition. After it had failed, it was, of course, easy to see 
why it should never have started. But Burgoyne seems to 
have sent it out on sufficient information received from various 
sources that the supplies were weakly guarded and that there 
were numerous loyalists in the neighborhood, who would be 
only too glad of a chance to rise and assert themselves. 2 

s Riedesel, Memoirs, p. 140; Burgoyne, "State of the Expedition 
from Canada/' pp. 99, 100, 134-139. 



The weak part, of the expedition was, that in two respects 
Burgoyne 's information was at fault. The willingness of the 
loyalists to rise, as well as their number, was greatly exag- 
gerated; and while it was true that the patriot supplies at 
Bennington were weakly guarded, yet Stark, unknown to Bur- 
goyne, was approaching that place with his newly raised militia. 
He had just decided to set aside his animosities and grievances 
and join Schuyler. 

Relying on the loyalists and not knowing of Stark J s ap- 
proach, Burgoyne sent Colonel .Baum with only 500 German 
regulars and about 100 Indians to seize the stores at Benning- 
ton. The criticism may, perhaps, be made that on general 
principles this force was too small to be risked so far away 
in an isolated position. This was, no doubt, a point where 
Burgoyne made a mistake, the mistake constantly made by 
British generals during the war. 

When Stark first heard of .Baum's movement towards Ben- 
nington, he sent two hundred men to check its advance which 
was composed of Indians. But as news came that the Indians 
were followed by a large force of regulars, Stark collected Ms 
whole body of militia, and marching on the morning of the 
14th of August, soon met the men he had sent out retreating 
with the British in close pursuit. 

Baum, seeing the Americans in such unexpected force, sent 
back to Burgoyne for reinforcements, and the Americans drew 
back to a stronger position. On consultation with his officers, 
Stark decided to send two detachments into the enemy's rear 
and attack with the rest in front. It rained all day, which 
prevented a battle and also prevented the reinforcement from 
arriving from Burgoyne. 

The next day about three o'clock in the afternoon, Stark 
carried out his plan of attacking simultaneously in front and 
rear. The Indians escaped in the beginning of the action before 
the Americans could close on them. But Baum's Germans, 
attacked on all sides by Stark 's militia, fought obstinately in 
the intrenchments they had made. The British and German 

Vol. II 6 81 


officers were amazed at the way the militiamen, without bayo- 
nets, rushed upon the trenches. It was a fine exhibition of the 
New England method of fighting without military discipline; 
and the militia had been encouraged by the promise of free 
plunder among the baggage of the enemy. 

Baum was completely routed, and just as his defeat was 
accomplished, his reinforcements arrived under Colonel Brey- 
man, who was in turn attacked by Stark 's victorious militia, 
supported by a fresh regiment that had just come up under 
Warner. The fighting continued till sunset, when Breyman 
and Baum retreated under cover of the darkness with the 
heavy loss of some 400 killed, wounded and prisoners, besides 
their artillery, ammunition, and wagons. 8 

This battle, although a mere side engagement, has always 
been regarded as one of the great victories of the war. Of 
course, now that Burgoyne was pressing on in ignorance of 
Howe's abandonment of him, his expedition was doomed with 
or without Bennington. But Bennington brought the end 
sooner; and was a terrible blow to Burgoyne. Independent 
of the moral effect he could not afford to lose 400 men. 

It was a typical American victory, over an isolated British 
detachment ; the sort of victory that when finally occurring iu 
a series, brought the war to a close. The essential principle 
in the whole military situation lay in this question of isolated 
detachments; and we have already had several instances of 
them. Howe, in 1776, had placed a detachment at Trenton. 
Washington promptly cut it off and a week or so afterwards, 
finding another isolated detachment at Princeton, defeated 
that also, the two engagements being generally regarded as 
saving the American cause. The Ministry planning Burgoyne 's 
expedition had sent round by Fort Stanwix a small detachment, 

3 "State of the Expedition from Canada/' pp. 134-143, Appendix 
Nos. 8 and 9. The Americans reported the British loss at over TOO. Gor- 
don, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. ii, p. 538; Stone, " Bur- 
goyne's Campaign;'' Wilkinson, "Memoirs," vol. i, p. 208. 



which met with disaster. Burgoyne had sent Baum's small 
force on an expedition to Bennington with the fate we have 
just seen. Breyman, sent to reinforce Baum, arrived too late 
and constituted another isolated detachment which was de- 
feated; and in fact Burgoyne y s whole expedition if not sup- 
ported by Howe was in itself an isolated detachment which 
was sure to be cut off. 

Washington saw very clearly the working of this principle. 
He was much pleased when he heard that Burgoyne was acting 
by detachment. 4 In fact, the capacity and merit of the generals 
on both sides can be gaged by the clearness with which they 
saw this principle, and the skill with which they could make 
use of detachment without rushing into ruin. Washington, 
perhaps, violated the principle when, after the Battle of Bran- 
dy wine, he left Wayne in an isolated position at Paoli; and 
we shall soon see him running great risk under peculiar 
circumstances in detaching Lafayette to Barren Hill. But he 
never made in this respect what could be called a capital and 
fatal mistake. Howe made the mistake only once at Trenton. 
Clinton never made the mistake and was peculiarly clever at 
sending out successful detachments which accomplished their 
purpose with little or no risk. Cornwallis, on the other hand, 
detached so much and in such a continuous series, that we shall 
soon see him bringing irretrievable disaster on himself as well as 
on the British cause. Instead of taking the view of Washing- 
ton and of Clinton that detachment was of the utmost delicacy 
and danger, Cornwallis seemed to believe that it was good in 
itself, and he carried it out with fanatical blindness. 

It is, of course, evident that the Americans being in pos- 
session of the country with more or less of a patriot popula- 
tion in every locality, could detach with far more safety than 
the British who were invaders at particular points surrounded 
by hostile inhabitants. When Clinton's successful detach- 
ments are examined, it is found that they depended in almost 

4 Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. v, pp. 504, 510. 


every case on the British navy, which having complete control 
of the water's of the coast, could land a detachment unexpect- 
edly at a sea-port where it could accomplish* its work quickly 
without penetrating far inland. So far .as the British were 
concerned small isolated expeditions were safe only on the 
water. 5 

Besides Burgoyne's "State of the Expedition" and Gordon's 
" American War," see generally, Cobbett, " Parliamentary History," vol. 
20, pp. 740, 786, 788, 798; Parliamentary Register, House of Com- 
mons, 1777, vol. xi, pp. 478, 479, vol. xiii, pp. 92, 93, 164, 174, 176, 
253, 266, 267; Jones, "New York in the Kevolution," vol. i, pp. 675, 
682, 685. 



BURGOYNE now lost the assistance of a large part of his 
Indians; and their defection seems to have been closely con- 
nected with one of those curious events which often unexpect- 
edly arouse public sympathy and feeling. 

A British officer, Captain Jones of the artillery, was said 
to have fallen in love with an American girl, Miss McCrea, who 
lived near Fort Edward. Anxious to bring his bride to a 
place of security, as her father was a loyalist, he promised two 
Indians a barrel of rum if they would bring her safely to the 
British camp. It was a strange and rather improbable thing 
for a man of any sense to do. But the story goes on to tell 
that on her way, dressed, it was said, to meet her promised 
husband, the two Indians disputed as to which of them should 
take her to Jones, and one of them to settle the question killed 
her with his tomahawk. 

When Burgoyne complained in a letter to Gates of the 
treatment of some of the prisoners taken by Stark at Ben- 
nington, Gates retorted by complaining of the atrocities of 
the British Indians who, he said, had murdered women and 
children and were so inhuman that they could not even be 
restrained from murdering the sweetheart of a British officer. 

Burgoyne replied that the murder of Miss McCrea was the 
only instance of Indian atrocity. But in that he seems to have 
been mistaken. He was apparently doing his best to restrain 
the Indians and not succeeding. They had for a time obeyed 
his prohibitions; but quickly relapsed into their old habits. 
He at first intended to put to death the murderer of Miss 
McCrea, but becoming convinced that such a punishment would 
drive them to greater violence he pardoned the murderer upon 
the Indians all agreeing to reform. They, however, almost 



immediately afterwards told him that they could not submit to 
his prohibitions and were going home, a threat which 500 of 
them carried out in a few days, taking with them all the plun- 
der that they had collected. 

Burgoyne never dreamed that his pardon of the murderer 
would make such a public commotion as followed. It seems 
to have been the one thing needed to inflame the patriot imag- 
ination, eager for food that would nourish its hatred of the 
British invader. The McCrea story was told and retold, dwelt 
upon in all its harrowing and tender details, and embellished 
with eloquence and sentiment until it, no doubt, served an ex- 
cellent purpose in uniting the patriots and arousing them to 
greater efforts in support of the army of Gates, In its effects, 
it was somewhat like the hanging of Nathan Hale, and has 
filled a space in the annals of the Revolution out of all pro- 
portion to its seeming importance. 

It is probable that there was no truth in that part of the 
story that described the young woman as having Indians sent 
for her by her lover. She had remained at Fort Edward after 
the Americans abandoned it, was captured by the Indians, 
and while taking her to the British camp in a dispute for her 
possession she was killed. 

Having failed to capture the supplies at Bennington, and 
having lost heavily in horses and wagons as well as in men, 
Burgoyne was compelled to wait nearly a month, from the 16th 
of August until the 13th of September, while provisions were 
slowly brought down from Canada. In that time the patriots, 
animated by their victories at Stanwix and Bennington, and 
relieved of all fear of Howe attacking New England or going 
up the Hudson, were rapidly collecting an army that would 
completely overwhelm the expedition from Canada. 1 

1 Chastellux, vol. i, p. 417; Wilkinson, "Memoirs," vol. i, pp. 230, 231; 
Anburey's "Travels," vol. i, pp. 369, 372-375; Gordon, " American Revo- 
lution," edition 1788, vol. ii, p. 545; "State of the Expedition," &c., pp. 
66, 67, 129-131; Fonblanque, "Life of Burgoyne," pp. 257, 258; Lamb, 
" American War," pp. 145, 157. 



A new problem was now presented to Burgoyne. He was 
on the eastern side of the Hudson River, and Albany, the ob- 
ject of his expedition, fifty miles away, was on the western 
side. It seemed necessary to cross to the western side at 
Saratoga near where he was; for the farther down the river 
he went, the more difficult it would be to cross ; and the patriot 
army, which was collecting on the right bank, might stop his 
crossing. If he crossed at Saratoga and expected to keep up 
his line of communication back to Canada, he must leave a 
considerable force to protect that line from the crossing back 
to the Lakes. This method, although apparently recommended 
by General Riedesel, was not approved by Burgoyne; for he 
had left over a thousand men to guard Ticonderoga and other 
points in the rear, he had lost some 400 at Bennington, and if 
he detached any more to defend communications he would not 
have enough to fight his way to Albany. He resolved, there- 
fore, to leave his communications as they were, collect as many 
supplies as possible and, carrying them with him across the 
Hudson, force his way to a junction with Howe at Albany. 

For this decision he was, of course, criticised in England. 
Why had he not, before the Battle of Bennington, made a rapid 
dash over the fifty miles between him and Albany; and even 
after that battle, why had he not made a rapid dash instead 
of that long waiting of a month to collect provisions which 
gave the enemy a chance to reorganize ? 2 

Fifty miles is certainly not a great distance. But Bur- 
goyne explained that there was only one road leading along 
the river and the enemy could easily have rendered it impassa- 
ble to vehicles and even to horses, by felling trees across it 
where it ran between a precipice and the river, and by destroy- 
ing the bridges over ravines and gullies. The troops would 
be without the artillery so much dreaded by the enemy an<l 
they would be obliged to carry everything on their backs. 
They could not have taken, in this way, more than four days' 

2 Riedesel, Memoirs, p. 141; "State of Expedition from Canada/ 1 
p. 143; Anburey, "Travels," vol. i, pp. 378-385, 417. 



provisions. The Mohawk might have been flooded or its cross- 
ing resisted. They would soon have been isolated in a half 
wilderness country, whose 'population dared not or would not 
feed them. They would have become the victims of famine with- 
out a blow fronrthe enemy; and there would have been a sur- 
render at Albany instead of at Saratoga. 

If the expedition to Bennington had succeeded and the large 
supply of horses, wagons and cattle, as well as provisions had 
been obtained, Burgoyne admitted that he might possibly 
have hazarded a sudden dash to Albany. What he might 
have done or should not have done, can, of course, be endlessly 
debated. But when we consider that Howe was not coming to 
his support, it made little difference what he did. Every 
movement and every decision would sooner or later have the 
same end. 3 

So he crossed at Saratoga to the west side of the Hudson 
on the 13th of September with the artillery, baggage and pro- 
visions for thirty days transported by the usual means 
of horses, oxen and wagons. But what was his force f Out of 
the 7000 troops with which he started, detachments, garrisons 
for the line of communication and casualties had left him 
only 4646 men. Of these, so many had to be detailed for 
baggage and ammunition guards, care of the sick and wounded, 
and similar services, that, according to the testimony of the 
adjutant general, there was left only eleven hundred men who 
could go into action. 4 

At Stillwater, 12 miles below where he crossed, the patriots 
had been collecting an army which had now been moved up 
to a ridge called Bemis or Behmus Heights and strongly in- 
trenched there in the American manner. Gates had superseded 
Schuyler and taken command on the 19th of August. His 
activity and zeal in reorganizing inspired confidence, and the 
New England militia soon began to march to his assistance. 
According to English accounts, violence and handcuffs were 

" State of the Expedition," &c., pp. 147-157. 
'Id., pp. 102, 103; Appendix No. 14. 



used throughout New England, to compel the patriot militia 
to serve, and the prisons were filled with, delinquents or loyal- 
ists who refused service. Something over 3000 of the militia- 
men appear to have been obtained mingled' with continentals 
sent by the efforts of Washington and the Congress, so that 
the army of Giates, which was only 5500 on his taking command, 
grew within about a month to 7000. 5 

Among the troops sent up by Washington were Daniel 
Morgan's famous riflemen, intended to be a counterpoise to 
Burgoyne 's Indians. Washington expected great things from 
these hunters and marksmen. "I shall be very much mis- 
taken," he says, "if their presence does not go far towards pro- 
ducing a general desertion among the savages." Most of the 
savages had, however, already deserted and the handful that 
were left could not be persuaded to come within sound of the 
Morgan rifles. 6 

The first attack on Burgoyne had already happened. It 
Had been made by General Lincoln, who, without it is said 
consulting Gates, sent a force under Colonel Brown and 
Colonel Johnson to carry out the original plan of striking Bur- 
goyne 's flank and rear. Brown and Johnson were so success- 
ful, that they surprised and took all the posts and stores in 
Burgoyne 's rear from the landing at the north end of Lake 
George up to Ticonderoga. They captured nearly 300 of the 
enemy and released 1000 American prisoners. 

After crossing the Hudson on the 13th of September, Bur- 
goyne moved southwards towards the American army encamped 
on Bemis Heights. The Americans had the advantage of about 
7000 men strongly intrenched while the British were in the 
open with only 4600 troops. The British, however, were better 

5 "Remarks on General Burgoyne's State of the Expedition .from 
Canada/' p. 28, London, 1780; Writings of Washington, Ford edition, 
vol. vi, pp. 4 note, 44 note. The British of course exaggerated the 
American numbers, and Riedesel gives Gates an army of from 14,000 
to 20,000. (Memoirs, p. 143.) 

6 Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, pp. 33, 34, 


disciplined and had an advantage in their excellent train of 
brass field artillery. This artillery was expected to offset the 
American habit of intrenching, and render their works unten- 
able, without the necessity of an assault, which would involve 
such loss of life as had occurred at Bunker Hill. Gates and 
his officers knew of this artillery and feared its effect on their 
breastworks. At Arnold's suggestion, as is supposed, they de- 
cided to fight in front of their fortifications in the woods, where 
the artillery would be almost useless, but where the American 
riflemen would be at their best. 

The American right rested on the Hudson River, was 
strongly fortified and covered the road to Albany which Gates 
was determined to protect at every hazard; and he took per- 
sonal command of this part of the line. The centre was pro- 
tected by a heavy thicket and ravine; so that the English in 
feeling their way avoided the right and centre and concentrated 
their movement on the left which they might hope to turn. 

The left was commanded by Arnold. Gates adopted the 
plan of putting forward Morgan's corps of riflemen and light 
infantry, the 61ite of his army as they were called, together 
with a party under Arnold to reconnoitre the enemy; and 
on the 18th of September Morgan and Arnold skirmished 
with the British as they felt their way southward through 
the heavily wooded country. On the evening of that day 
the British encamped within two miles of the American 
position. Arnold's division with Morgan's corps was in ad- 
vance of the American left with their right resting on the 
impenetrable thicket which covered the American centre. It 
was an excellent position for defending the left. The ground 
between the two armies was heavily wooded with an opening 
or clearing about midway called Freeman's Farm. 

On the morning of the 19th of September, the British 
advanced in three divisions, Riedesel on the left, Burgoyne in 
the centre and Frazer on the right. Arnold advised attack- 
ing them at once, and Gates directed him to send Colonel 
Morgan and the light infantry and support them. This 
Arnold did and the battle began about noon. The Americans 



tried, at first, to turn the British right and then the left, and 
failing in both these movements settled down at about 3 o'clock 
in the afternoon to a direct attack on the front. At first only 
Burgoyne 's and Frazer's divisions were engaged; and, accord- 
ing to Riedesel, they were beaten and about to retreat, when 
his men saved and rallied them by attacking the right flank 
of the enemy. 

Arnold kept reinforcing Morgan until there were about 
2500 or 3000 Americans in the fighting line. How many Bur- 
goyne had is difficult to determine. According to the testi- 
mony afterwards given before Parliament he had with him on 
this attempt to reach Albany 4600 ; but so many were guarding 
the camp, boats, hospital and ammunition wagons that his men 
in action against the 3000 Americans were only 1100. This 
seems very few and possibly the adjutant who testified before 
Parliament may have meant that there were only 1100 British. 
On this supposition if we add the proportion of Germans, and 
possibly some Canadians and Indians, it might give Bur- 
goyne about 2000 on the fighting line. The evidence of his 
numbers has, however, usually been ignored on our side and the 
general statement made that he was superior in numbers or had 
from 3500 to 4000 in action. This gives more credit to our 
army ; but at this late day the patriot cause hardly needs the 
assistance of such devices. 

The battle lasted until far into the dusk of the evening 
and was fought on the American side by Arnold's division 
under his own personal command. Some of the regiments, it 
is said, remained in action until almost midnight. Burgoyne 
was outnumbered ; but it was a most stubbornly contested fight, 
and the German officers said the hottest and most continuous 
firing they had ever experienced. 

The battle has been variously called the First Battle of 
Saratoga, or the Battle of Bemis Heights, and sometimes the 
First Battle of Stillwater. The English called it the Battle 
of Freeman's Farm. It furnishes additional testimony, if any 
were needed, that Burgoyne was a good officer in the field, 
and that his subordinates and men, British and German, were 



among the finest trodps in the world. They were superbly 
handled in the latest European manner, division supporting 
division in correct formation, accurately timed. But they 
could accomplish nothing in the face of the superior numbers 
and methods of the Americans. They were being cut to pieces 
aU the time; and much to their surprise, their great reliance, 
the bayonet, was as easily evaded by militia in the woods of 
New York, as it had been evaded by Indians at Braddock's 
defeat in the woods of Pennsylvania. The American half- 
Indian tactics of climbing into the tops of trees, shooting from 
behind them, individual fighting without set rule or forma- 
tion, the picking off of officers and the deadly aim of the rifle- 
men, were better suited to the situation at this Battle of Bemis 
Heights than European science and discipline. 

Burgoyne 's description of the methods of Morgan's men 
is interesting: 

" The enemy had with their army great numbers of marksmen, armed 
with rifle-barrel pieces; these, during an engagement, hovered upon the 
flanks in small detachments, and were very expert in securing themselves 
and in shifting their ground. In this action many placed themselves in 
high trees in the rear of their own line, and there was seldom a minute's 
interval of smoke, in any part of our line, without officers being taken 
off by a single shot." (" State of the Expedition," p. 163.) 

Burgoyne himself had a narrow escape. As he was receiv- 
ing a dispatch from an aide, a rifleman, observing that the aide 
had laced ornaments on his saddle, inferred that he must be 
the general, shot him through the arm, and reported among the 
patriots that Burgoyne had been killed. 

When darkness came, the Americans drew back to their 
intrenehments, and the British officers claimed a victory be- 
cause, as it seemed to them, their last bayonet charge had been 
effective in causing this retreat and leaving them masters of 
the field. Riedesel claimed for himself the honor of saving 
the .day and causing the final retreat. It is true, no doubt, 
that the British and Germans were entitled to the credit of 
a victory for having withstood for a whole afternoon more 
than their own number of militia and riflemen. But their 



valor had been of no real advantage. Killed, wounded and 
prisoners they had lost over 500 men, which was nearly half 
their fighting force. Several regiments were nearly wiped out 
of existence. Burgoyne thought that the American loss had 
been the greater; but it was only about half that of the British; 
and, moreover, the Americans could stand a loss, while Bur- 
goyne could not afford even a victory in which he lost nearly 
half his fighting men. 7 

The credit for any American advantage during the day 
was popularly ascribed to Arnold, who had commanded the 
left with his accustomed vigor 'and Ms orders were ably car- 
ried out by Morgan. But Gordon, 'who investigated the battle 
'soon after its occurrence, and "Wilkinson, who was Gates 's aide, 
said that Arnold did not head his division but remained in 
camp ; and this opinion has been followed by Bancroft in his 
History of the United States and Graham in his Life of 

The next day the British took some comfort in intrenching 
themselves on the field of battle at Freeman's Farm, from 
which they believed they had driven their enemy. But the 
two armies remained inactive and rather apprehensive of each 
other. The British were very naturally alarmed at the cheek 
they had received ; and the American ammunition had run so 
low that they had to send hurriedly to Albany to strip the lead 
off the windows of the old Dutch houses. More of Burgoyne 's 
Indian allies- deserted him ; and some of the Oneidas joined the 
American army and began to bring in British scalps. 

From the 20th of September, the day after the battle, until 
the 7th of October, the two armies remained opposite each 
other intrenching and strengthening themselves, constantly 
skirmishing, but coming to no general engagement. Gates was 

T I. N. Arnold, " Life of Arnold," .chap. 9; Gordon, "American Revo- 
lution," edition 1788, vol. ii, pp. 547-553; Burgoyne, "State of the 
Expedition from Canada," pp. 60, 69, 70, 77, 102, .103, 125, 162, Appendix 
No. '14; Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, p. 86 note; 
Graham, " Life of -Morgan," pp. 143-153 ; Kiedesel, Memoirs, pp. 143-145 ; 
Wilkinson, "Memoirs,"- vol. i, chap, vi; Anburey, "Travels," vol. i, 
pp. 410-430. 



soon reinforced by the arrival of Lincoln with 2000 militia 
and there were other arrivals, until the 7000 of the American 
army had grown to 11,000. 

The inactivity on Burgoyne 's part from the 19th of Sep- 
tember to the 7th of October, was caused not only by the weak 
condition of his army, but by a letter received the day after 
the battle from General Clinton, in New York, who said he 
would render all the aid he could by attacking as soon as pos- 
sible the Hudson Highlands at West Point. This information 
was worse than useless. The force Clinton could bring up was 
inadequate as well as too late. But Burgoyne, if he followed 
his instructions, must wait for this assistance, or, perhaps, 
even press down to meet it. If he had had any thought of 
being justified in retreating back to Canada, this letter com- 
pelled him to dismiss it. 

He resolved to wait; and he sent officers in disguise by 
different routes to Clinton, urging him to send all the assist- 
ance he could and the northern army would wait for him where 
it was until the 12th of October. Burgoyne had calculated 
that by the 12th of October his provisions would be exhausted, 
and he must then either advance, surrender or retreat back to 

Meanwhile, the Americans, seeing the whole situation very 
clearly, and that their game was as good as bagged, spent their 
time and superior force in annoying the British by small skir- 
mishes and attacks day and night; depriving them of sleep 
and keeping them so perpetually under fire and on the alert 
that mere exhaustion would, in time, bring a surrender. 

Gates and Arnold had quarrelled; and apparently for no 
other reason than that Arnold was very friendly with Schuyler 
whom Gates disliked and by superior influence in Congress 
had superseded in the northern command. There may have 
been a deeper cause in the increasing opposition of Gates to 
Washington and the desire to supersede him. Arnold and 
Schuyler were both friendly to Washington. Arnold had failed 
to receive his expected and well deserved promotion; juniors 
had been promoted over him ; he was in a painful position ; and 



as hie naturally looked to Washington for assistance he could 
be of no use in the private schemes of Gates. 

The ill-feeling was very likely brought to a head by the 
respect shown by both officers and men to Arnold as the gen- 
eral to whom all the honor of the recent battle was due. In his 
report to Congress Gates made no mention of Arnold or his 
division. Arnold complained; angry words and letters were 
exchanged. Gates withdrew Morgan's corps from Arnold's 
division; told Arnold his services were of little consequence; 
that he would gladly give him a pass to leave ; and turned over 
Arnold's command to General Lincoln. Arnold was on the 
point of leaving the army, but was finally induced to remain by 
a written request signed by all the general officers except Gates 
and Lincoln. 

A crisis was reached in Burgoyne's affairs on the 7th of 
October by forage becoming so scarce that on that day Bur- 
goyne, full of anxiety and desperation, and hearing no tidings 
of assistance from the south, moved out of his camp with 1500 
men, to see if any forage could be found, or a passage for 
advancement forced round the left flank of his enemy. If he 
could neither attack the enemy nor force a passage round him, 
he intended, Riedesel says, to retreat across the Hudson to 
his old line of communications and there wait for news from 
Clinton. 8 

This new move by Burgoyne may be said to have been a 
very dangerous one to make in the face of an enemy so superior 
in numbers ; and when Burgoyne was afterwards so mercilessly 
hunted down in England, his enemies had much to say on this 
point. But when we consider the circumstances in which the 
unfortunate general now found himself, it is very difficult to 
decide what he should have done. He was under peremptory 
orders to push southward, and whether it was better to accept 
the sure defeat of that or the equally sure disgrace of a retreat 
back to Canada, might have been settled by the toss of a coin 
as well as by the most consummate human judgment. 

Riedesel, Memoirs, pp. 146, 147; "State of the Expedition," &c., 
pp. 165-167. 



Gates was surprised at the movement; but quite ready 1 for 
it, and Morgan was again ordered forward to begin the game. 
He was supported soon afterwards by. the brigades of Poor and 
Learned ; and by these officers and Morgan the battle was 
stubbornly contested for most of the 'afternoon, and the British 
wings and centre forced back for nearly two miles to their 
redoubts just at sunset. 

Arnold deprived of his command had fretted in camp, rid- 
ing about in great indignation, and, it is said, drinking freely. 
At last with wild exclamations of excitement he galloped to 
the fighting; but at what period of the battle has not been 
determined. He undertook to exercise command ; and extrava- 
gant and doubtful tales have been told that the whole success 
of the day was due to him. But his actions confirm the account 
given by "Wilkinson that he had been drinking. He struck a 
patriot officer with his sword, wounding him on the head and 
apparently not knowing what he had done darted away to 
another part of the field. In his frenzy he rode between the fire 
of the two armies and miraculously escaped unhurt. He may 
have inspired and encouraged the troops in this way, but his 
actions were those of a madman rather than of an officer. 

Gates, according to one account, sent an officer to recall 
him from the field and according to another account, to warn 
him that the present British attack on the American left was 
a mere feint and that the real attack might be on our right. 
To which Arnold replied with hot and offensive indignation, 
that he would take all the responsibility on himself. 

On the British side General Frazer seemed to be saving the 
day, restoring the shattered lines, reforming regiments and 
encouraging them by his voice and valor. Morgan directed 
twelve of his riflemen to make sure work of this officer; and 
by one tradition Arnold suggested this course to Morgan, The 
riflemen obeyed, and a few moments afterwards Frazer rolled 
off. his horse, while his men, panic-stricken, again gave way 
before the patriots. 

Baroness Riedesel, who had accompanied her husband to 
the war, had been >able to watch the first battle with consid- 



erable equanimity probably because her people held their 
ground. But this second battle greatly terrified her. The 
furious assaults of the Americans spread dismay and consterna- 

"The noise grew dreadful, upon which I was more dead than alive. 
About 3 o'clock in the afternoon, instead of guests whom I expected to 
dine with me, I saw one of them, poor General Frazer, brought upon a 
hand barrow, mortally wounded. The table, which was already prepared 
for dinner, was immediately removed and a bed placed in its stead for the 
general. I sat terrified and trembling in a corner. The noise grew more 
alarming, and I was in a continual agony and tremor while thinking 
that my husband might soon also be brought in wounded like General 
Frazer. ... I heard often amidst his groans, such words as these, 
1 bad ambition ! poor General Burgoyne J poor Mistress Frazer/ " 
(Riedesel, Memoirs, p. 169.) 

At the close of the action near sunset Arnold is said to 
have collected fifteen or twenty riflemen and carried the German 
defences by assault. His horse was shot under him just as he 
entered the breastwork and at the same time a German wounded 
him in the thigh. The story is told that an American was 
about to bayonet the German when Arnold stopped him with 
the order, "Don't hurt, him; he only did his duty." Whether 
we believe or reject all these traditions of his heroism that day 
there is no doubt that it was the hour for Arnold to have died. 
Officers like Wilkinson who were eye witnesses of these scenes 
believed that he rendered no important service and deserved 
no particular credit. But popular opinion made him the hero 
of this Second Battle of Saratoga; and even when his name 
became a by-word of contempt some of the patriots always 
qualified the infamy with the remembrance of Saratoga. "Cut 
off the leg that was wounded at Saratoga/' said one of them; 
"and bury it with all the honors of war; and then hang his 
body on the highest tree." 9 

Arnold, "Life of Arnold," pp. 191-211 ; Burgoyne, "State of the 
Expedition from Canada; " Fonblanque, "Life of Burgoyne; " Wilkinson, 
"Memoirs," vol. i, chap, vii; Anburey, " Travels," vol. i, p. 436; Gordon, 
" American Revolution," vol. ii, p. 558. 

Vol. II 7 97 



DURING the night after the last Battle of Saratoga, the 
British army in most deplorable distress, with great loss among 
the officers from the rifle fire of the Americans, retired to 
higher ground, where the next day they were almost continu- 
ally cannonaded, but no action was fought. In the dusk of 
the evening General Frazer was buried in one of the redoubts, 
in the sight of both armies, carried to the grave at his special 
request by the soldiers and officers of his own corps. Our 
troops seeing the movement within the British lines and not 
knowing that it was a funeral, turned several of their cannon 
on the redoubt, and the shot scattered dust over the chaplain, 
Mr. Brudenel, who nevertheless, with steady attitude and un- 
altered voice, read the burial service through to the end. 1 

That night Bnrgoyne retreated toward Saratoga, and 
halted during most of the next day, the 9th of October, to refresh 
the troops and bring up provisions; but Kiedesel appears to 
have regarded it as a day lost in saving the army. That even- 
ing the army retreated again through heavy rain, and they 
appear to have reached Saratoga during the night in such a 
state of fatigue that the men had not strength to cut firewood 
and lay down to sleep in their wet clothes in the continuing 

The crossing to the east side of the Hudson was blocked 
by the enemy; and the only chance of escape lay up the west 
side of the river. A council of officers agreed upon a plan to 
accomplish this, by abandoning all the wagons and baggage 
and making a rapid night march. But the army was so disor- 

1W State of the Expedition," &c., pp. 107, 169. 




ganized that lie necessary provisions could not be distributed 
and nothing was done. There is a rather doubtful story of 
Burgoyne saying to the loyalist Colonel Skene, "You have been 
the occasion of getting me into this difficulty, now advise me 
how to get out of it; 7 ' and Skene replied, " Scatter your bag- 
gage and stores and while the rebel militia are scrambling for 
the plunder your army will have time to escape/' 2 

The suffering in the army from fatigue, hunger, wounds, 
disgrace and hopelessness was terrible, and the Baroness 
Riedesel has given most affecting descriptions of the scenes. 
Subordinates and camp followers, of course, thought that an 
escape might have been effected and blamed all their misfort- 
unes on Burgoyne. The Baroness accuses him of loss of 
presence of mind, delaying retreat until escape was hopeless, 
and of enjoying himself in the midst of the sufferings of the 

" It is very true that General Burgoyne liked to make himself easy, 
and that he spent half his nights in singing and drinking, and diverting 
himself with the wife of a commissary who was his mistress, and who 
was as fond of champagne as himself." (Memoirs, p. 176.) 

As to escape by retreat, it was probably utterly impossible. 
At the time of the battle Gates had begun to throw a force in 
the rear of the British and this force was increased the next 
day. Burgoyne had better means than his subordinates of 
knowing the whole situation; and the investigation of his 
scouts soon showed that Gates had completed his surrounding 
movement and that every avenue of retreat was cut off. 

Never were troops in such a state as his. The Americans 
kept up such a continuous fire night and day, that the British 
had not a moment's rest unless they burrowed in the ground. 
The Baroness, approaching a house for refuge, had suddenly 
to throw her children into the back of the wagon and lay her- 

a " State of the Expedition," &c., pp. 108, 109, 170, 174, 175; Riedesel, 
Memoirs, pp. 149-152; Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, 
vol. ii, p. 571. 



self upon them in hope of saving them from a volley. She got 
into the house with them, but had to plunge down into the 
cellar to escape a cannonade. A soldier whose leg was being 
amputated in the house had the other leg shot ofiE by one of 
the balls. 

In the cellar she lived for several days, in the horrible 
stench of the sewage, sharing her quarters promiscuously with 
wounded or frightened soldiers and officers, who threw them- 
selves frantically into this underground retreat; and on one 
occasion in such numbers that "every one of us would probably 
have been crushed to death, had I not put myself before the 
entrance and resisted the intruders." 

On the 13th of October, having only three days' provisions, 
Burgoyne called a council of officers; but there was scarcely 
a spot in his camp where the council could sit in safety and 
while they were deliberating a cannon-shot crossed the table. 
By the unanimous advice of the council, Burgoyne communi- 
cated to Gates liis willingness to negotiate terms of surrender. 
On the 16th, when the terms had been agreed upon, but not 
signed, an American deserter reached the British camp bring- 
ing the news that Clinton was coming up the Hudson and had 
already taken the forts at the Highlands. 

Howe had left Clinton so few men in New York that he 
could not make a diversion in favor of Burgoyne until some 
1700 reinforcements arrived from Europe. The reinforce- 
.ments were sent in slow-sailing Dutch vessels and did not 
reach 'New York until about the 1st of October. As soon as 
they arrived Clinton lost no time in starting up the Hudson. 
But when he informed Howe of what he was doing, he was dis- 
couraged and requested to send part of his force to Philadel- 
phia to help reduce the forts on the Delaware. 3 

Clinton, however, had started up the Hudson before Howe's 

De Lancey's note to Jones, " New York in the Revolution," vol. i, 
p. 704; Bancroft, "History of the United States," edition of 1886, vol. v, 
p. 195; Parliamentary Kegister, House of Commons, 1779, vol. xiii, pp. 
379, 380. 



request for reinforcements reached him, and he proceeded with 
4000 men to take the forts near West Point which the patriots 
had left weakly manned. General Putnam was in command 
of them with only 1000 men; and although he wrote to the 
patriot governor of New York for assistance, it could not be 
obtained before the British were attacking Port Montgomery 
in full force. We see how easily an adequate force sent a few 
weeks earlier by Howe could have saved Burgoyne when, we 
find that Clinton easily took Fort Montgomery by assault with 
the bayonet, and afterwards possessed himself of the whole 
Hudson Highlands, capturing the vast supplies of muskets, 
cannon, ammunition, provisions and military tools and equip- 
ments of all kinds, which the patriots had stored in their great 

Clinton also removed the heavy iron chain weighing 50 
tons, with the boom attached, which the patriots at enormous 
expense had stretched across the river at Fort Montgomery to 
obstruct the navigation. A smaller boom at Fort, Constitution 
was also removed, and the navigation of the river was now 
open to the British all the way up to Albany or to Half Moon 
within sixteen miles of Gates J s army. 

If Clinton had had a larger force, say eight or ten thou- 
sand, and had been only a week earlier, it is easy to see what 
a dangerous enemy he would have been in the rear of Gates 's 
army. But he was now just too late. He took Fort Mont- 
gomery on the 6th of October, only the day before Burgoyne 
met his disastrous and final defeat at the hands of Gates in what 
has been called the Second Battle of Saratoga. 

But even as it was Clinton seemed to have an opportunity 
of doing much more mischief to the Americans than he actu- 
ally accomplished. They fully expected that he would destroy 
the patriot arsenal at Albany, and quickly come upon the rear 
of the patriot army. Gates dreaded his approach. But to 
everybody's surprise Clinton remained at West Point and en- 
trusted the advance towards Albany to a force of only 1700 
men under General Vaughan, who with a flood tide could have 



reached Albany in four hours. Instead of that he stopped at 
Esopus and wasted all his time in burning the town of Kings- 
ton, and ravaging its neighborhood, and never went to Albany 
or to the assistance of Burgoyne at all.* 

But when Burgoyne learned from the deserter on the 16th 
of October, that Fort Montgomery had been taken, he caught 
eagerly at this last hope, and suggested to his officers that, 
as the terms of surrender had not been signed, the nego- 
tiation might be broken off, and hostilities renewed, until 
Clinton could come up in the rear of Gates. His officers, how- 
ever, had already had enough. Some of their troops, they 
thought, would not fight if the negotiations were broken off; 
others had not strength enough to fight in a desperate enter- 
prise; and the news of Clinton's coming, having been received 
from a deserter, was not sufficiently authentic. for such a serious 
change of plan as breaking off negotiations. No doubt, they 
all felt sure that the situation was really hopeless. But 
Burgoyne clung to the hope of Clinton to the last and voted 
against the majority of his officers. 

They had already delayed the signing of the terms so long 
that Gates, fearing that Clinton might attack him in the rear, 
drew out his army in order of battle on the morning of the 
17th, and sent word to Burgoyne that the terms must be 
signed at once ; and they were signed within a few minutes. 

In his report to the Congress, Gates described Burgoyne as 
intrenched in a formidable position with twelve days' pro- 
visions left and Clinton's force threatening the Albany arsenal. 
The choice, he said, was presented of accepting the terms 
Burgoyne wanted and insisting on immediate signature, or of 
attacking him at once in his strong position, or leaving him 
in it and falling back to protect the arsenal at Albany. It 
seemed better to settle the terms of surrender at once, even if 

4 Jones, " New York in the Revolution," vol. i, pp. 219, 704; Writings 
of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, pp. Ill, 129 notes, 164 and note; 
Gordon, "American Revolution/' edition 1788, vol. ii, pp. 554-558, 579. 
Gordon states Vaughan's force at 3600 ; but Clinton gives it as 1700. 



t &,',;? 

M" ;:'.//;,, i ' 'f 

ur -.. 

IP? A - - 


they were more favorable to Burgoyne than might be obtained 
if the negotiations were prolonged. 5 

Poor Burgoyne felt his situation most keenly. To save 
his feelings the word surrender was not used, and the docu- 
ment was called "A convention between Lieutenant General 
Burgoyne and Major General Gates." The American general 
spared Burgoyne 's feelings as far as possible, and, whether 
from kindliness or apprehension of Clinton in his rear, was 
magnanimously liberal and easy. The Americans of that time 
seem to have felt considerable sympathy for Burgoyne, prob- 
ably because they saw that his misfortunes were not his own 
fault. Gates allowed Burgoyne 's troops to pile their arms at 
command of their own officers, and out of sight of the Amer- 
icans. In most respects the surrender followed the usual 
forms. But the apprehension of what Clinton might do in his 
rear seems to have forced Gates to undue haste or carelessness 
in wording the treaty, and too much advantage was given the 
British, which afterwards caused much controversy and ill 

The surrendered troops were to be sent to Boston as prison- 
ers of war and then sent to England on their parole not to 
serve against the Americans until regularly exchanged. But 
while the troops waited near Boston, various disputes arose; 
and it was soon seen that Gates in his haste and fear of Clin- 
ton, had made a great mistake. The troops while on their 
parole in England could not serve against America; but they 
could serve against France, if she became our ally; and they 
could serve in India or any British possession not American, 
or on garrison duty in England, and thus relieve forces which 
could be sent to America. In this way most of the advantage 
of the victory at Saratoga would be lost to the patriots. 

Burgoyne ? s whole army were surprised at obtaining such 
favorable terms; and he and his officers when they returned 

B Journals of Congress, vol. ii, p. 310; Gordon, "American Revolu- 
tion," edition. 1788, vol. ii, pp. 566^581; St. Clair Papers, vol. i, p. 88; 
" Diary and Letters of Thomas Hutehinson," vol. ii, p. 154. 



to England, boasted of their success. It is not surprising, 
therefore, that the Congress found many causes of delay. 
Washington, and also, it is said, Lafayette, urged the Congress 
to delay returning the convention troops to England as long 
as possible, so that they could not be used against France. 
The English, Washington said, would not regard the terms 
of the convention if they once got these men back again, but 
would use them against America the following year, as they 
had done in a similar case after the convention of Closter 
Seven. 6 

A suspicion arose that if Burgoyne once set sail from Bos- 
ton with his men, he might carry them into New York to help 
Howe. It was also said that inasmuch as General Howe would 
not agree to any equitable arrangement for the exchange of 
prisoners, it was rather absurd to return a whole captured 
army to England on bare parole. 

Burgoyne, who was at times injudicious, and went to ex- 
tremes in the use of language, very soon declared that the 
American public faith plighted at Saratoga had been broken 
because the officers among the prisoners were not given as 
good accommodations as were promised. He also asked leave 
to embark his men at Rhode Island or in Long Island Sound, 
near New York, both of which points were in possession of 
the British. 

The Congress immediately took advantage of his assertions 
and requests by declaring that if he thought that good faith 
was broken, he could not be trusted to carry out the conven- 
tion after he set sail, but would probably avail himself of 
such pretended breach to disregard all the terms of the con- 
vention. His troops must, accordingly, be kept in America 
until the British Government itself explicitly ratified the con- 
vention. But even after this ratification further disputes 
arose about furnishing lists of the prisoners. There was much 

6 "State of the Expedition," &c., pp. 75, 179; Fonblanque, "Life of 
Burgoyne," pp. 308, 324; Lee, Memoirs, vol. i, pp. 8 note, 263 note; 
Wilkinson, "Memoirs," vol. i, chap. viii. 



unpleasant controversy and recrimination between the two 
countries, and Burgoyne's army, except himself and some offi- 
cers, remained prisoners in America for the rest of the war. 
They were kept near Boston until November, 1778, when they 
were sent to Charlottesville, Virginia, and on the approach of 
Cornwallis's army, in 1781, they were moved up into Penn- 
sylvania to prevent their rescue by Tarleton and Simcoe. 7 

T As to the controversy over our failure to return the convention 
troops, see Writings of Washington, Ford edition, Tol. vi, pp. 175, 190 
note, 225, 234, 246, 247, 283, 293, 369 note; vol. vii, 222 note, 276 note; 
Biedesel, Memoirs, p. 162; Lamb, "Journal of American War," chap, x; 
Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, pp. 44, 45, 48, 49, 
117; Jones, " New York in the Revolution," vol. i, pp. 210-214, 698. 



BUBGOYNE surrendered about 3500 rank and file fit for 
duty, which was all that was left of the seven or eight thousand 
who had started with him from Canada. By a return of his 
troops which Gates handed to Burgoyne, the American army 
without counting those sick and on furlough, numbered 20,907. 
If this return was correct, Gates 's army was as large as and 
probably more efficient than the army collected under Wash- 
ington in 1776 to prevent Howe taking New York. Burgoyne 
was glad to learn of this large number, because it showed that 
his surrender had been brought about by the overwhelming 
odds of more than five to one. But like so many statements 
of numbers in the Eevolution, the correctness of the return 
has been doubted; and it is said to have been exaggerated 
beyond the actual number of about 11,000 in order, as some 
have thought, to soothe Burgoyne 's feelings, or more prob- 
ably, to give him such an impression of our force as we should 
wish him to report in England on his return. 1 

The battles of this campaign, it will be observed, were 
fought by the Americans by direct front action with but little 
attempt at flanking movements; and this seems to have been 
the plan agreed upon by Gates and his officers as the most 
effective method. Washington protested against it and in an 
interesting letter recommended the superior advantage at all 
times of flank movements which kept the enemy continually 
harassed and in fear. But the country was so heavily wooded 

*" State of the Expedition," &c., pp. 97, 110, 111; De Lancey's note 
to Jones, " New York in the Revolution," vol. i, p. 674; Writings of 
Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, pp. 150, 502. See also Parliamentary 
Register, House of Commons, 1779, vol. 13, pp. 110, 259, 260, 269. 



that elaborate flank movements might have been impractical 
for Gates, whose brain could grasp only the simplest military 
ideas. He seems to have understood the situation, and possibly 
his own limitations, and his method was certainly successful. 2 

It was characteristic of the times and of the people that 
some of the militia regiments were in such a hurry to return 
to their farms and business, that as soon as they saw that 
Burgoyne was hopelessly crippled they deliberately deserted 
in a body and returned home without waiting to see the cere- 
mony of the surrender. After the surrender, and after 
Vaughan and Clinton retired to New York on the 26th of 
October, there was no one who could hold Gates 's large army 
together and it melted away like snow. 8 

Burgoyne returned to England on his parole in May, 1778, 
and Washington would have been glad to have had him go 
sooner; for the longer he remained in the country, the more 
he learned of our military weakness. When he resumed his 
seat in Parliament he found himself in a most extraordinary 
position, and the most unfortunate man in the world. 

As soon as the news of his surrender had reached England 
on the 2nd of December, 1777, the question at once arose as 
to who should bear the blame for this dreadful calamity which 
was convulsing the whole country. It lay among three persons, 
Germain the representative of the Ministry who had drawn 
the plan of the expedition and issued the instructions, Howe 
who had abandoned the expedition to its fate by going to 
Pennsylvania, and Burgoyne who had commanded the expe- 
dition and surrendered the army. 

The Ministry quickly decided to make no direct attack upon 
Howe. He had not surrendered an army; the charges and 
suspicions against him were largely matters of inference and 
opinion; and in the beginning of the war his efforts at com- 
promise had been associated with the similar efforts or olive 
branch policy of the Ministry. Burgoyne was accordingly 

1 Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. v, p. 34. 
8 Id., vol. vii, p. 154 note. 



selected as the victim and before lie reached England the 
Ministerial nood-gates of abuse through hack writers, hench- 
men and office-seekers had been opened upon him. 

Upon his arrival he was peremptorily refused an audience 
with the King. He demanded a court-martial, but was refused 
because he was still a paroled prisoner; and the Ministry at- 
tempted to deprive him of his seat and voice in Parliament, 
because as a paroled prisoner he was incapable of performing 
any public act civil or military. Courtiers and aristocracy 
treated him with every mark of disgrace. He was assailed with 
violent abuse and studied contempt, as the only man in Eng- 
lish history who had surrendered a British army to rebels 
and militiamen. 4 

They denounced every act and decision of his expedition. 
Every inference that would convict him of an atrocious fault 
was drawn ; and they assailed what they called his final treaty 
with rebels as a national disgrace. It is curious to find him 
laboring to show them that such treaties were by no means 
unheard of. Had not Spain, the haughtiest of nations, made 
a treaty with the arch rebel the great Prince 'of Orange ? Had 
not Charles the First made a treaty with the rebels under 
Cromwell? and had not General Howe attempted negotiations 
with the American rebels? 

But you, they said to him, surrendered not only to rebels 
and militia but to poltroons, and cowards, incapable of fight- 
ing; and, in his defence afterwards published, we find Bur- 
goyne continually arguing against this feeling, this "courtly 
topic" as he calls it, of American cowardice which had become 
a deep rooted belief among some of the upper classes of the 
English. He was, it seems, the first Englishman who under- 
took to disabuse the minds of his countrymen on this subject, 
and explain to them that they had quite mistaken the organiz- 
ing abilities of Schuyler, Lincoln, and even Gates, as well as 

* Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, p. 502; Gordon, 
"American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, pp. 76, 113; Fonblanque, 
" Life of Burgoyne," pp. 344-350. 



the valor and fighting intelligence of the rank and file when 
led by such field officers as Morgan, Learned, and Arnold. 

Refused a court-martial and at the same time forbidden 
to appear in Court, he was under royal and public condemna- 
tion and yet could not be tried or defend himself. He kept 
calling for a Parliamentary investigation and when it was 
repeatedly refused, he began a systematic attack upon the 
.Ministry, ,and Germain in particular as the cause of the failure 
of his expedition. 

He could do nothing else. He had always been a moderate 
Tory, but the Ministry were turning him into a Whig. He had 
at first, it is said, intended to charge Howe with leaving him 
to be sacrificed. But the Whigs were anxious to add him to 
their ranks, and offered to help him exonerate himself if he 
would agree to throw all the blame for his misfortunes not on 
their own party man Howe, but on Germain and the Ministry. 
This condition he appears to have accepted and fulfilled to 
the letter. 5 

The Ministry very naturally became more hostile to him 
than ever when they found that he was becoming a Whig. In 
order to rid themselves of his attacks and demands for a Parlia- 
mentazy inquiry, which they knew would be merely a Whig 
assault on Germain, they procxired an order for his return 
to his imprisoned troops in America. Against this order he 
pleaded the condition of his health and the hardships of being 
sent back untried and unheard on the charges against him. 
Another order of the same sort was procured and this one he 
deliberately disobeyed on the ground that it was an unconstitu- 
tional exercise of power, that it was issued for mere private 
vengeance to close his mouth in Parliament and send him to 
America, where his ill health or the ill will of the people might 
prevent his returning alive. If the order had been issued for 
military discipline, he would, he said, have obeyed it; but as 
it was issued to prevent his giving information to Parliament, 

* Fonblanque, "Life of Burgoyne," p. 351 note; "Diary ..and Letters 
of Thomas Hutchinson," vol. ii, pp. 210, 256, 257, 261, 336. 



and as it was a prostitution of military command to political 
craft, lie considered himself justified in disregarding it. 

He persisted in this act of disobedience to orders for which 
ordinarily officers are court-martialed, and severely punished. 
But he seems to have persisted with impunity, and his courage 
and persistence were finally rewarded in the spring of 1779, 
by the granting of a Parliamentary inquiry into his conduct 
at the same time that an inquiry was made into the conduct 
of General Howe. 

Howe's statement and witnesses were first heard before 
Parliament sitting as Committee of the Whole, and after 
that Burgoyne brought forward his documents and witnesses. 
All this evidence delighted the Whigs because it seemed to show 
not only that the war had been badly conducted by the Ministry, 
but that it was impracticable. Germain then opened the case 
of the government against Howe, but had not finished examin- 
ing his second witness when Parliament was prorogued by the 
King, to the great satisfaction of the Whigs, who had now 
become very much opposed to the continuation of the investi- 
gation because the witnesses called by Germain tended to prove 
that the war if conducted by good officers was perfectly prac- 
ticable and might be made successful. 7 

The two inquiries having been cut short by the prorogation 
were never taken up again. Burgoyne 's witnesses had been 
cross examined but no government witnesses had been brought 
against him, so that the investigation was incomplete and in- 
conclusive. All he could do was to publish the testimony and 
documents that had been presented with his own argument and 
narrative in a volume called "The State of the Expedition 
from Canada,'' already often cited in these pages, and an im- 
portant source of information on his campaign. Howe also 

" State of the Expedition from Canada," pp. 181-187; Fonblanquc, 
"Life of Burgoyne," p. 357; also, pp. 351, 355, 362, 375. 

T " Diary and Letters of Thomas Hutchinson," vol. ii, pp. 256, 257, 
261, 336, and note at end of introduction of Btirgoyne's " State of the 
Expedition from Canada." 



published a defence of himself, or " Narrative " as he called it, 
but it was very different in character from Burgoyne 's. 

Burgoyne J s statements are straightforward and his argu- 
ment strong and fully supported by the evidence. There are 
none of the subtleties and obscurities, none of the surprising 
assertions or suspicious explanations which we find in Howe's 
defence. Burgoyne disposes of every charge of his enemies, 
frees himself from blame, and shows that his surrender was 
the inevitable result of the failure of Howe to come up the 
Hudson to meet him. But in accordance with his understand- 
ing with the Whigs, he throws the blame not on Howe, but on 
Germain, who failed, he said, to send Howe peremptory instruc- 
tions to go up in force to Albany. The Whig party also made 
the same argument, that Howe had no instructions about Bur- 
goyne's expedition and was entirely justified in not moving 
up the Hudson. 8 

Burgoyne still considered himself entitled to a complete 
trial and acquittal, in the most legal and formal manner, and 
asked for a court-martial. It was bluntly refused him; his 
request for further service in the war was also denied; and 
he then resigned all his military appointments with their 
3000 a year, the professional attainments of a lifetime, re- 
taining only his lieutenant-generalship, the basis of his parole 
and which he hoped might also be the basis of a court-martial. 

He never obtained the court-martial and it would probably 
have been of little use, for all Tory England had made up 
their minds about him. Thackeray, who always kept close 
to fashionable sentiment, describes him in his "Lives of the 
Georges" as "tripping down St. James Street on his way to 
beat the Americans, and slinking back to his club crestfallen 
after his defeat." 

It was a grossly unjust slur; for the vigorous manner in 
which Burgoyne defended his reputation could hardly be 
called slinking. He remained in Parliament for many years 

* " State of the Expedition from Canada," pp. ix, 189 ; Fonblanque, 
"Life of Burgoyne," p. 348; Annual Register, 1779, chap. vii. 



fond of speaking of the French King as the Great Protector 
of the Eights of Humanity. But he had 13.0 sympathy what- 
ever with the republican ideas of the American patriots and 
believed that their rebellion was a pernicious example for the 
colonies of France and Spain. England, however, had re- 
cently humiliated France by depriving her of Canada and 
several smaller possessions, weakening her foothold in India, 
breaking up her commerce, and, worst of all, placing the port 
of Dunkirk on her own soil under the government of an 
English commissioner. The whole French nation was thirst- 
ing for revenge. In fact all continental Europe was thirsting 
for revenge, because England searched their merchant ships 
as she pleased. Spain was thirsting for revenge because the 
English still held Gibraltar and Minorca, the strongholds of 
the Mediterranean, and Jamaica, the basis of naval power in 
the Spanish main. France as the strongest nation of the con- 
tinent was expected to lead an attack upon England at the first 

It was the obviously sound policy. The American colonists 
had helped England take Canada from France; and un- 
less America was separated from England would not this 
huge confederacy of the Anglo-Saxon race become so powerful 
that they would take from France her West India sugar 
islands worth 280,000,000 francs in capital and 30,000,000 
francs in revenue? Might they not even subdue France her- 
self and endanger the stability of the whole continent of Eu- 
rope ? The great problem of the age was England 's sea power. 
The Americans were such skilful sailors that if they remained 
united to England this united sea power of the Anglo-Saxon 
race would surely dominate the world. But America inde- 
pendent would in time be a great sea power to check the arro- 
gance of the British navy. 

These were the considerations which could not be ignored. 
The French Secretary of Foreign Affairs, the Count de Ver- 
gennes, a man of attractive character, an experienced diplo- 
mat and statesman and a great friend of Franklin, had used 
his utmost endeavors, as soon as the rebellion began, to persuade 



the King of the necessity of helping the Americans. He 
had sent Beaumarchais to England to study the situation 
and write letters to the King. Emissaries had been sent to 
America, and the most accurate information collected from 
every quarter. Turgot, the French Secretary of Finance, 
admitted that assistance to the Americans seemed inevitable; 
but he regretted such an expensive necessity, which would 
probably bankrupt the nation, and he never became an active 
advocate of the policy. 

The King and the government, however, were effectually 
won over to that policy; and to their cool minds, surveying 
the situation with exact knowledge of details, it seemed that 
the Americans would of themselves be able to resist England 
for a time. France need not hurry. Let her at first assist 
them by secretly sending weapons and supplies and watch 
the result. It would be well that England should exhaust 
and weaken herself somewhat before France openly took part 
with the Americans. In accordance with this plan the secret 
supplies had been sent by Beaumarchais and his romantic 
firm of Hortalez & Company. But now Great Britain was 
surely much weakened by the loss of Burgoyne's army, so what 
need was there for further secrecy or hesitation f * 

News of Burgoyne's surrender was received in France on 
the 4th of December, and the effect of it is quite apparent 
when we find that the preliminary articles of a treaty of alli- 
ance with the Americans were signed on the 17th of January 
and the final treaty on the 6th of February. This prompt- 
ness on the part of the French Court was largely induced by 
their knowledge that the English Ministry were about to offer 
to the Americans very liberal terms of compromise; in fact 
a return to the semi-independence that prevailed before 1763 
and the same terms of freedom from Parliament that the 
Congress itself had proposed in 1774. The French Court 
feared that the Americans in their weakness, and not feeling 

*Durand, "New Materials for History of American Revolution," 
pp. 31, 36, 46, 47, 51, 54, 80-82. 



sure of assistance from France, might be led to accept this 
compromise, which would reunite the Anglo-Saxon race and 
defeat all the purposes France had in view. A treaty of alli- 
ance must at once be made with, the Americans, promising to 
help them obtain absolute independence, while they, on their 
side, promised to make no compromise with England and to 
accept nothing short of absolute independence. 

The King did this in spite of the doubts and protests of 
some of his important ministers. But it was on the whole a 
very popular act in France. The court and the aristocracy 
admired Franklin and les insurgents more than ever and took 
upon themselves the task of giving them independence. It 
was certainly curious, and to some minds inconsistent, that 
this great assistance, the greatest perhaps that was ever given 
to Anglo-Saxon ideas of liberty and self-government, was 
given by the French nation and a French king, a Celt, half 
Bourbon and half Pole, at the height of the reign of despotism 
in France. 2 

Our alliance with France led naturally to other assistance; 
The Spanish Government under the influence of its minister, 
Florida Blanca, was at first opposed to giving aid to such 
extreme republicans as the Americans, who were likely to 
prove, and certainly have proved, a dangerous example to 
the people of Spain's South American and "West Indian col- 
onies. Spain was also anxious for the safety of her silver fleet 
from South America and some troops that were to return from 
Buenos Ayres. But at the same time Spain was very anxious 
for an opportunity to drive England from Gibraltar and she 
saw clearly enough that if America remained a part of the 
British empire such a stupendous power would in the future 
be fully as dangerous to her colonial possessions as American 
independence and republicanism. Moreover, Spain being 
ruled by the house of Bourbon was naturally in close sym- 
pathy with France. It was not long before she yielded to 

'Stedman, "American War," vol. ii, p. 5; Buell, "Life of Paul 
Jones," vol. i, pp. 94-98. 



the influence of France and began to supply the American 
patriots with money, sent through France, without the knowl- 
edge of England, to whose government the warmest expres- 
sions of regard were given. In the end, France persuaded 
Spain to make open war upon England; and the active as- 
sistance of Holland as well as the sympathy and passive 
encouragement of Russia and Frederick of Germany, was 
no doubt greatly encouraged by the , example of France and 

The assistance of France was now open and avowed, and 
Beaumarchais and his firm of Hortalez & Company are no 
longer of importance. At Passy, a suburb of Paris, Franklin 
lived for the rest of the war, delighting the whole French nation 
by his wit and homely wisdom, and representing the Ameri- 
can Congress in the most effective manner by his sure friend- 
ship with Vergennes and his popularity with the Court, the 
men of science and the people. 

Round his colossal ability and steadfast course fluttered 
at times other American agents, Arthur Lee, a malign char- 
acter, and Silas Deane, a hardworking and useful represen- 
tative but ruined in reputation by the spite of Lee. There 
was Edward Bancroft, a clever adventurer, strongly sus- 
pected of giving information to the British; and Ralph Izard, 
a very sincere South Carolina patriot, sent by the Congress 
to the Duke of Tuscany, but anxious for higher employment, 
and a vigorous hater of Franklin. John Adams was also 
there, vain, jealous of Franklin, deeply suspicious that France 
intended to free America and then enslave her, quarrelling 
with Vergennes, and smoothing it over; and, after acting 
the part of a bull in a china shop, departing for Holland, 
where he. was of some use and negotiated a loan. Loans were 
steadily negotiated in France ; and when we look back at the 
services of that nation we find that she furnished nearly the 
whole naval force ; most of the credit and money, a large part 
of the troops, guns and military supplies at a cost to herself 
of over twelve hundred and eighty million francs. It was this 
crippling expense that caused Turgot's lukewarmness to the 



alliance and it no doubt increased the financial difficulties 
which led to the French revolution. 3 

"With such results, the surrender of Burgoyne, whether 
caused by his own fault, or by Howe or by Germain, was a 
momentous event and has been rightfully regarded as a great 
turning-point in the Revolution. It hardly, however, deserves 
the name of a decisive event; for it did not end the war and 
was not the final turning-point. It secured for us foreign 
aid, but a long time elapsed before that aid could be brought 
to bear upon the contest. Spain did not declare war and join 
her forces to those of France until the summer of 1779; 
Holland's assistance came a year later; and even France, from 
whose activity we expected so much, could at first accomplish 
nothing. Her attempts to assist us during the autumn fol- 
lowing the alliance and for nearly two years afterwards were 
utter failures because her whole energy was absorbed in de- 
fending her West India possessions from the enraged assaults 
of the English. Her admirals were instructed to help the 
Americans only in the intermission of active operations in 
the West Indies ; and the first fleets she sent to our coast were 
defeated or rendered useless by the energy and desperation of 
the English. She sent no army to us until the summer of 

1780, and then it was immediately blockaded by the English 
at Newport, where it remained useless until the summer of 

1781. In short, it was not until that summer of 1781, that 
the aid of France became really effective. 4 

The consequence of these failures was that within a year 
after the French alliance, all the expected results of Bur- 
goyne 's surrender seemed to have evaporated and the patriot 
cause sank before the changed and more vigorous policy of 
Great Britain under a general of more straightforward ability 
than Howe. Indeed, in 1780, American independence was on 

Parton, "Life of Franklin j " Sumner, "Financier and Finances of 
the Revolution ; " Durand, " New Material for History of the American 
Revolution; " Wharton, "Diplomatic Correspondence of the Revolution." 

*Lee, Memoirs, vol. i, p. 99. 



the verge of extinction, when suddenly there was a change 
and another turning-point was brought about by the blunder 
of the English general Cornwallis, in forcing the adoption 
of a new and mistaken method of conducting the war. This 
turning-point, which led directly to the end, was marked by 
the curious and interesting Battle of King's Mountain. With- 
out the aid of this mistake of Cornwallis, all our aid from 
France and Spain would apparently have been of no avail. 

But we are more concerned at present with the immediate 
effect of the French alliance, which when it became known in 
England, in the spring of 1778, threw the whole Tory party 
and all London society into a state of dejection, gloom and 
perplexity which Governor Hutchinson has graphically de- 
scribed in his diary. 5 The people had hesitated about going 
to war with the colonies because England had just come out 
of a long war with France, in which a national debt of such 
vast proportions had been incurred that it seemed to imply 
national bankruptcy and decay; and now England was in- 
volved in war with both France and the colonies, with a pros- 
pect of serious European complications and a loss of position 
and prestige in India. 

The effect upon the Whigs was to confirm them in their 
argument, that the American war was an impossible one, 
and should at once be stopped in order to save England's other 
possessions from France and Spain. But the Ministry and 
the Tories were aroused to greater and more determined exer- 
tion. They resolved to make one more supreme effort to com- 
promise with the colonists by offering some concession that 
might draw them away from France; and if that failed, to 
change the whole character of the war and assail both the 
colonists and France in the most relentless manner with the 
full power of the British army and navy. 

Among the loyalists the French alliance was regarded as 

5 "Diary and Letters of Thomas EutcMnson," vol. ii, pp. 186, 187, 
189, 190, 193, 198, 199. 



a horror and an infamy far worse than the Declaration of 
Independence. That Protestant colonists should ally them- 
selves with the great Roman Catholic monarchy, the ancient 
enemy of the Anglo-Saxon race, and ally themselves for the 
purpose of making war upon their own faithful and loving 
mother, England, was a depth of degradation to which, they 
declared, they had thought it impossible for Americans to 
descend. They saw in it nothing but ruin, and the Romaniz- 
ing of America under despotic government. 

For the rest of the war, and even for some time afterwards, 
loyalist newspapers and writers never wearied of describing 
the details of this ruin which they saw so clearly appearing. 
They were sure that parts of America had been ceded to Prance 
by secret clauses in the treaty or would be demanded at the end 
of the war, and at times they named the particular states. 
French vessels were on their way to America laden with tons of 
holy water, casks of consecrated oil, chests of beads, crucifixes, 
consecrated wafers, mass books, and bales of indulgences, besides 
the wheels, hooks and pincers of the Inquisition. Franklin 
had been decorated, they said, with the order of the Holy 
Cross of Jerusalem. Dancing masters, fiddlers, and friseurs 
were on their way to the Puritans of New England. Portable 
soup, garlic and dried frogs were being prepared for importa- 
tion; and a contract had been signed to build a Bastile io 
New York. 6 

As we look back through a perspective of nearly a hundred 
and fifty years, all this seems very ridiculous. But in 1778 
thousands of American loyalists sacrificed their property and 
their lives to their belief in such arguments; and in 1779 
and 1780, when it. was thought that the independence move- 
ment had fallen in spite of the aid of France, there were 
patriots who became convinced by such arguments and thought 
the French alliance a deplorable mistake. 

6 See Van Tyne's " Loyalists," pp. 152-156, for an excellent summary 
of the loyalist point of view. 



To put down the rebellion and save America from the 
terrible fate in store for her, loyalists like Judge Jones oE 
New York, and William Franklin, the governor of New Jer- 
sey, called for the most relentless severity, slaughter, hanging, 
exile, and confiscation/ the severity that had -been inflicted 
upon Ireland, no mercy to men, women, or children, the 
same call which, in our. own time, we have heard from literary- 
men of England for effecting the extermination of the Boer 
republics. 7 

T Jones, "New York in the Revolution," vol. ii, p. 27; Bancroft, 
"History of the United States," edition 1886, vol. v, pp. 294, 327. 



THE first news of Burgoyne's surrender seems to have 
reached Howe about the 20th of October, some two weeks after 
the Battle of Germantown ; for on the 22nd of that month we 
find him writing to Germain that he had heard a rebel rumor of 
Burgoyne's surrender, but that he did not believe it. He is 
greatly surprised, he says, to hear that Burgoyne had com- 
plained of the failure to cooperate with him. He thought that 
it was distinctly understood, through his letters to Carleton and 
to the Ministry, that "no direct assistance could be given by 
the Southern army." He then adds that so little attention 
has been given to his recommendations that he would like 
to be recalled and allowed to resign from "this very painful 
service, wherein I have not the good fortune to enjoy the 
necessary confidence and support of my superiors." * 

But it was many months before this resignation could be 
accepted, and meantime he remained in Philadelphia where, 
as in New York, he and his army surrounded themselves with 
gaiety of every kind cricket, theatricals, cock-fights, balls, 
music, and the wit, clever verses and sketches of AndrS. Their 
peaceful sojourn in the town from the 26th of September, 
1777, to the 18th of June, 1778, this carrying on of war and 
conquest by post holding as it was called, may have been an 
inferior military method, but it was a source of great enjoy- 
ment and an unrivalled opportunity for social advancement 
to the upper classes of the loyalists who worshipped every- 
thing English. 2 

Parliamentary Register, House of Commons, 1779, vol. xi, p. 437; 
Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, pp. 128, 129, 142, 155 and 

1 Jones, " New York in the Revolution," vol. i, p. 717. 



It was a strange scene in the good old Quaker town with 
the rebel prisoners eating rats in the Walnut Street jail, 
while the commissary of prisoners grew rich, and extrava- 
gance, speculation, gambling, and European indifference to 
morals filled the respectable, plain brick houses. A Hessian 
officer held the bank at the game of faro and made a con- 
siderable fortune by ruining young Englishmen, some of 
whom were obliged to sell their commissions and go home penni- 
less. The officers made no attempt to keep their mistresses in 
the background. One of them drove in her carriage with 
footmen up and down the lines at a review of the troops, dressed 
in a costume that was a feminine imitation of the uniform of 
her paramour's regiment. 3 

Washington remained unmolested at Valley Forge until 
the following summer. All he had to do, all he could do, 
was to play the long waiting game with Howe's post-holding 
system. The Pennsylvania patriots were clamorous for an 
attack on the British in Philadelphia; but Washington and 
his officers, of course, declined to attempt such a mad enter- 
prise. Howe, on the other hand, could have attacked Wash- 
ington at almost any time at Valley Forge and destroyed or 
captured his starving army, with far less difficulty than he 
had taken Eed Bank and Fort Mifflin. Howe had 20,000 men. 
Washington had nominally 9000, counting the sick, starved, 
and half -naked, and by March 3000 had deserted to the Brit- 
ish, and so many others were sick or at home that there were 
only 4000 men at Valley Forge. 

They had neither coats, hats, shirts nor shoes; they sat 
shivering around fires in their huts, remaining whole days 
without provisions; and their feet and legs were often frozen. 
Several times Washington found that he could not send out 
a force to attack a British foraging party, because there was 
no food to send with the men, and a dangerous mutiny had 
begun among them. That such a disorganized army of four 

'Sargent, "Life of Andre"," p. 145; Stedman, "American War," vol. 
i, p, 309, London, 1794, 



thousand naked, shivering invalids should remain unmolested 
for six months within twenty miles of twenty thousand well 
fed British troops, is one of the most curious events that ever 

The British sent foraging parties in every, .direction 
through the neighboring counties. It seemed absolutely im- 
possible that the patriot force could remain at Valley Forge. 
Washington frequently expected his men to break up and 
scatter within a few days; (t starve, dissolve or disperse in 
order to obtain subsistence. " At times it seemed to him that 
a storm or three or four days of bad weather, would be the 
destruction of his whole army. In February he could no 
longer refrain from expressing his admiration for the "in- 
comparable patience and fidelity of the remnant who,. naked 
and starving, had nevertheless, stood by him through the 
winter and refrained from mutiny and dispersion." 4 

But even when he was expressing this admiration we find 
General Varnum writing "that in all human probability the 
army must soon dissolve. " They had been deserting during 
the winter in tens and fifties, and Galloway reported that over 
two thousand came to his office in Philadelphia. Many of them 
reached the town half naked, barefooted, a tattered blanket 
strapped to their waists; and their first thought was to sell 
their guns to buy food. 5 

Everybody wondered why Howe did not attack Valley 
Forge. In such an attack, if the patriot troops had decided 

4 Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, pp. 257, 258, 379, 381 
note, 436, 487; Drake, "Life of General Knox," pp. 55, 56; Historical 
Maga&ine, May, 1861. 

. *Stedman, "American War," pp. 308, 310, London, 1794; Parlia- 
mentary Register, House of Commons, 1779, vol. xi, p. 465; G. W. Greene, 
" Life of Nathanael Greene," vol. i, pp. '536-541 ; Van Tyhe, " Loyalists/' 
p. 157; Boltoh, " Private Soldier under Washington/' p. 240; Jones, " New 
York in the Revolution," vol. i, pp. 236, 237 ; " Memoirs and Corre- 
spondence of Lafayette," edition of 1837, vol. i, p. 35 ; Writings of Wash- 
ington, Ford edition, vol. vi, pp. 253, 257,- 258, 261, 262, 267, 286, 358, 
361, 379, 381 note. 



to defend their trenches, the British would probably have 
suffered considerable loss before conquering; but the assault 
would have been worth all it would cost, and by such assaults 
victories have been won and wars ended. 

" Every military man/' said Galloway, " Indeed every man of common 
sense who was acquainted with the different force of the two armies, and 
Washington's position, expected daily to see his camp assaulted or 
besieged, more especially in the months of March, April and May, when 
the inclemency of the weather had ceased, because they knew the assault 
was then practicable, with cafe and little risk. Washington often, during 
this time, had not three days' provisions in his camp and sometimes not 
a sufficiency for one day." (" Letters to a Nobleman on the Conduct of 
the War/' 3d edition, London, 1780, p. 88.) 

Washington frankly admitted the weakness of his position, 
which he said he could not have defended and could not even 
have retreated from for want of the means of transportation j 
and he was much surprised that Howe took no advantage of it. 5 
Howe defended himself in his usual way by suggesting that 
nothing very important would be gained by an attack and that 
he was expecting that a compromise would be arranged. 

" The entrenched situation of the enemy at Valley Forge, twenty-two 
miles from Philadelphia, did not occasion any difficulties so pressing as 
to justify an attack upon that strong post during the severe weather, 
and though everything was prepared with that intention, I judged it 
imprudent,' until the season should afford a prospect of reaping the 
advantages^ that ought to have resulted from success in that measure; 
but having good information in the spring that the enemy had strength- 
ened the camp by additional works, and being certain of moving him from 
thence when the campaign should open, I dropped all thoughts of an 
attack. My letter of the 19th of April, 1778, gives further reasons for 
tliis part of my conduct." ("Narrative of Lieut. Gen. Sir William 
Howe," London, 1780, p. 30.) 

In other words, he thought it imprudent to attack eight 
thousand with twenty thousand in the severe weather; and 
in spring, although his enemy had sunk to four thousand, 
he still thought it imprudent because the enemy would be 

Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. 8, p. 504. : 


more easily moved in summer. But Washington's force always 
began to increase about May or June, and in summer he usually 
could muster about ten thousand men. The time to attack him 
was when he was weakest, in March and April ; for in summer 
he would move from Valley Forge of his own accord and per- 
haps attack Howe. 

Howe's letter of the 19th of April, 1778, to which he refers 
as giving further reasons, reveals his real motive. 

" The enemy's position continues to be at Valley Forge and Wilming- 
ton; their force has been diminished during the course of the winter by 
desertion, and by detachments to the back settlements, where the Indians 
make constant inroads; but the want of green forage does not yet permit 
me to take the field, and their situation too strong to hazard an attack 
with a prospect of success, which might put an end to the rebellion; 
whereas a check at this period would probably counteract his majesty's 
intentions of preparing the way for the return of peace by the bills 
proposed/' (Parliamentary Register, House of Commons, 1778-1779, vol. 
xi, p. 465.) 

Here we have his old excuse, that the loyalists ridiculed 
so much, of never taking the field until the grass had grown 
long enough for his horses; and the last words of the letter 
refer to some bills which had been introduced in Parliament 
appointing a peace commission to go out to America and nego- 
tiate a compromise. Howe eagerly seized on this proposal 
of a peace commission as an excuse for inactivity, because it 
was exactly in line with his whole policy from the beginning, 
that the object to be aimed at was not subjugation or conquest, 
but a compromise. 

The assault on Valley Forge which Galloway and Stedman 
recommended, would have been made up the east side of the 
hill with heavy supporting forces placed on both the patriot 
flanks. Another method would have been for the British to 
surround Valley Forge with a wide circle of troops so as to 
cut off entirely all its slender supplies and communications. 
But the great distance to be covered by this second method 
would have spread out the British in such attenuated lines that 
a very inferior force could have cut through them, broken up 



their communications and thrown them into confusion. In 
reply to a friendly warning that such a surrounding plan 
might be attempted Washington declared that he had no fear 
of it. 

" It is a project which appears to me totally impracticable with the 
enemy's present force, or even with one much greater; and I believe the 
experiment will hardly be made. The extensive line or rather circle they 
must occupy, to keep up the communication from post to post, necessary 
to intercept our intercourse with the country, would be very little able 
to defend themselves at any given point, and would expose them to ruin 
in case of an attack from us." (Writings of Washington, Ford edition, 
vol. vi, p. 383.) 

A Frenchman, the Chevalier de Pontgibaud, who spent 
part of the winter at Valley Forge, says that they became so 
entirely free from any apprehension of the enemy that they 
had almost forgotten that the great British army was only 
twenty miles away. But one day they were reminded of its 
presence by a fine sporting dog, evidently lost, coming into 
the dining room at headquarters to beg for something to 
eat. On its collar were the words General Howe ; and it was 
promptly returned under a flag of truce to its owner in 
Philadelphia, who sent back a letter of thanks. 7 In fact, 
the British general's inactivity had rendered the whole situ- 
ation so farcical in the eyes of every one, that an absurd 
tradition grew up, and is still sometimes repeated in Philadel- 
phia, that Washington used to go into the city in disguise and 
spend a friendly evening with General Howe over a game 
of cards. 

There had been much unfavorable comment on Washing- 
ton during the autumn and the more his series of defeats at 
Brandywine, the Schuylkill crossing and Germantown, to- 
gether with the loss of Mifflin and Red Bank and the deplor- 

7 Pontgibaud, "A French Volunteer of the War of Independence," 
p. 47. This dog, evidently of patriotic instincts, had previously strayed 
into Washington's camp a few days after the Battle of Germantown. 
(Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, p. 98 note.) 



.able destitution of his army were contrasted with the brilliant 
success of Gates at Saratoga, the more certain people were 
inclined to hint that the commander-in-chief was not equal 
to the situation. Even John Adams began to lose confidence 
in him. Samuel Adams was strongly opposed to him and 
with Mifflin, Richard Henry Lee, Dr. Rush, and other mem- 
bers of the Congress, were laying plans to supersede him. 

We must not be too hasty in condemning these patriots. 
Time has shown that their uneasiness was unnecessary and 
mistaken. But placed as they were in a position to see all the 
failures of the autumn oi 1777 and all the misery of the 
Valley Forge winter, with the army reduced to the vanishing 
point, and apparently nothing but the inactivity of Howe 
preventing total extinction, it was not unnatural that they 
should have misgivings, and that they should feel that the 
great success of Gates in the North would be an empty and 
useless victory if everything went to pieces in the South. 

Filled with this thought they dropped hints and sugges- 
tions in conversation and circulated an anonymous paper 
called "Thoughts of a Freeman," which was a formal attack 
not only on Washington's ability as an officer, but oh his popu- 
larity, which, it was said, was misleading the people and keep- 
ing an incompetent man in command. 

"The people of America have been guilty of idolatry by making a 
man their God, and the God of heaven and earth will convince them by a 
woful experience, that he is only a man; for no good can be expected 
from the standing army until Baal and his worshippers are banished 
from camp." (Sparks, Writings of Washington, vol. v, p. 497.) 

The cautious methods by which they felt public sentiment 
to see if it could be changed, show the great confidence the 
majority of the patriot party had in Washington in spite 
of the failures of 1777. Whether this confidence was really 
deep rooted, or a mere passing sentiment, was the question 
that Mifflin, Rush ? .Ll?e and their party undertook to investi- 
gate during, the Valley Forge winter. This party in the 



Congress that was opposed to Washington was the same one 
which was suspicious of the intention of France and believed 
tha,t she would seize some of our territory or turn us into 
French colonists. 

Gates had readily accepted their suggestions and stood 
ready to take the eommandership-in-chief as soon as the 
movement in his favor became sufficiently strong. He had 
for some time been criticising in a sharp, overshrewd way 
the decisions and plans of Washington, and he did this even 
in letters addressed to Washington himself. He was an 
Englishman, had served in the British army, and settled in 
Virginia, Though impressive and useful in politics and a 
good organizer of military affairs, he was an inferior field 
officer, and of such a narrow, jealous, intriguing mind, that 
he could never have balanced and united factions and dealt 
broadly and fairly with all sorts of characters and conditions 
as Washington was obliged to do every day in order to keep 
together his army and the cause. 

An Irish officer named Conway, who had spent a large part 
of his life in the French service, turned in to assist the rise 
of Gates, but did him more harm than good. "Heaven," 
he wrote to Gates, "has been determined to save your coun- 
try, or a weak General and bad counsellors would have ruined 
it." This phrase incautiously shown by Gates, became known 
to Washington's friends. They communicated it to Washing- 
ton, who merely let Conway know he had seen it; and both 
Gates and Conway were thrown into much confusion, while 
Washington's numerous friends among the officers of the 
army rallied to his support, 

Mifflin and Rush would probably have conducted the move- 
ment in a cautious way as far as it was capable of going 
and then abandoned it. But Conway, with a combination of 
Irish and French excitability, bustled about in it so much and 
shrugged his shoulders so often, that he gave it his own 
name, the Conway Cabal, and ruined it. Washington had taken 
the ground that if there was a strong public or majority dis- 
approval of his conduct, he would gladly resign his exhaust- 

Vol.II 9 129 


ing duties and retire to private life; but he would not resign 
at the request of a mere faction. . 

There is a tradition that at one time the cabal was so 
strong in the Congress, that they were on the point of offer- 
ing a motion to send a committee to arrest Washington in 
his camp and forcibly remove him from command. But the 
motion was abandoned because of the arrival of Gouverneur 
Morris, who would have made a bare majority against it. 
Outside of the Congress there was soon no question about 
public opinion in the patriot party ; and as winter passed into 
spring, the Conway Cabal became of less and less importance, 
and after the news of the French alliance it was heard of no 



Some officers, notably the foreign ones, were quite severe 
in their criticisms on Washington for wintering in such a 
desolate place as Valley Forge, where scarcely any provisions 
could be obtained. Howe obtained most of his supplies by 
his ships, which was the usual method of the British through- 
out the war. He also received considerable supplies from the 
numerous loyalists of Pennsylvania, who hauled to Phila- 
delphia and sold for hard money the farm produce which 
should have gone to Washington's camp. On market days 
the British appear to have sent out large detachments of over 
two thousand troops, which proceeded eight or ten miles out 
on the roads leading to the town, to protect the loyalist mar- 
ket wagons from patriot raids. 9 

In February, much against his will, Washington sent out 
General Greene to seize supplies from the people throughout 
the region now covered by Delaware and Chester counties. 
It must be done or the army would disband. Washington was 
always reluctant to make seizures of this kind, because the 

8 Gordon, "American Revolution/' edition 1788, vol. iii, pp. 44, 54; 
G. W. Greene, "Life of General Greene," vol. ii, pp. 1-40; Durancl, 
is New Materials for History of American Revolution," pp. 22, 23, 173, 
191-194, 234, 235, 240, 241 ; Johnson, " Life of Greene," vol. i, pp. 154, 

*W. B. Reed, "Life of Joseph Reed," vol. i, p. 380. 



patriot party was very suspicious and jealous of any extreme 
exercise of military power which, might seem inconsistent 
with the doctrines of liberty and the rights of man. But 
Greene hardened his heart and executed his disagreeable duty 
rigorously. He could .collect very little; for nearly all the 
produce of the country, the horses, cattle, swine and sheep 
had been sent by the loyalists to Philadelphia. 

The patriots, however, got a small share of this produce 
by capturing some of the loyalist wagons on their way to 
Howe. There was a patriot force organized for this purpose 
and scouting between the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers un- 
der the command of Allan McLane, a rough-rider and free- 
booter of the most gallant type, and there was a similar force 
under General Lacey. McLane made dashes up to the gates 
of the redoubts which stretched from river to river along the 
line of Green and Poplar streets. Judging from Lacey's 
letters and reports, nearly the whole population near Phila- 
delphia was loyalist. He could obtain no assistance, no in- 
formation from them, not 'even the direction of the roads. As 
soon as he approached they would mount their horses con- 
cealed in by-plaees, and taking their way through the fields 
and private paths, tell the British in the city that the rebels 
were in the neighborhood. 10 

Washington said that "the greater part of the inhabitants 
of Pennsylvania" were loyalists, and that the British had 
their emissaries in every part of the country working up the 
loyal interest. It is highly probable that the growth of loyal- 
ism was everywhere greatly encouraged by these secret emis- 
saries. Great quantities of printed copies of spurious let- 
ters and documents, purporting to be written by Washington 
or adopted by the Congress, were circulated by the British. 
They were most cunningly contrived to throw doubt on the 
patriot cause and influence the minds of the hesitating class. 
This would seem to be in entire accord with Howe's plans of 

M NiIes, "Principles and Acts of the Revolution," edition 1876, pp. 



bringing about a compromise with as little use of the mili- 
tary power as possible, and may help us to understand the 
surprisingly large numbers of the loyalists in certain places. 
The starvation of the army at Valley Forge and the small 
number of Pennsylvania militia in the field were quite obviously 
the result of loyalism in Pennsylvania. 11 

Part of Howe's plan in taking his army to Philadelphia 
had been to increase loyalism in that region; and in this 
respect his expedition had undoubtedly succeeded. It always 
seemed as if the colonies might be retained by increasing and 
encouraging the loyalists until they became so powerful that 
they would take possession, one by one, of all the state govern- 
ments and hold them within the British empire. But the 
loyalist party, though considerable in numbers, was so largely 
composed of hesitators, neutrals and indifferents that it was 
altogether lacking in aggressiveness. 

The troops of McLane and Lacey who seized provisions 
intended for the British, were known as market stoppers. 
They were very apt to be captured 'in their daring work, and 
were then paraded by the British through the streets, with 
vegetables strung around their necks and market-baskets on 
their arms, before being jailed or publicly whipped and 
turned adrift. In retaliation, the patriots would often whip 
loyalist marketmen, brand them in the hand with the British 
army letters G. R., and send them into the British lines. 12 

The cruel treatment which the British inflicted on their 
prisoners in Philadelphia was one of the stock horrors of the 
Eevolution, like the suffering at Libby and Andersonville in 

11 Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, pp. 118, 119, 150, 
191, 288 note, 450, 451, 474 note, 493. 

"Sargent, "Life of AndrS," pp. 143, 144, 159; Cobbett, "Parlia- 
mentary History," vol. xx, p. 346; Parliamentary Register, House of 
Commons, 1779, vol. xiii, pp. 430, 431, 435, 436; G. W. Greene, "Life of 
Nathariael Greene," vol. i, p. 557 ; Gordon, " American Revolution," edition 
1788, vol. iii, pp, 52-65; Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, 
pp. 249, 295, 367, 368; Historical Magazwe, vol. v, p. 132; Jones, "New 
York in the Revolution," vol. i, p. 716. 



the Civil War of 1861. Among the starving prisoners in Phil- 
adelphia rats were a luxury. Dr. Waldo said, that some of 
the prisoners, in their last agonies of hunger, scraped mortar 
and rotten wood from the walls and greedily ate it for the 
temporary sensation of nourishment which it gave. Such 
scenes of cruelty in the midst of the extravagance, luxury and 
gaiety which the loyalists and British officers enjoyed that 
winter, very naturally stimulated the hatred of the patriots for 
everything English, and inspired them with more desperate 
determination in the contest. 

The condition of the prisoners was the result of the system 
by which army officials were permitted to make fortunes. The 
Philadelphia commissary of prisoners possibly made a for- 
tune; for the New York commissary, the husband of General 
Howe's mistress, is reported to have amassed great wealth 
out of treatment which produced a still longer list of atrocities. 

The worst prisons in New York were the ships moored out 
in the harbor, floating hells, where the living and dead lay 
together in the stifling holds, and the first word of the guard, 
in the morning was "Rebels, turn out your dead/' The 
corpses were buried on the beach and when washed out by 
storms floated for days in the hot sun beneath the port-holes 
of the ships. 13 

" The inhuman treatment our prisoners met with while in New York 
ig beyond all description. Humanity cannot but drop a tear at sight of 
the poor, miserable, starved objects. They are mere skeletons, unable to 
creep or speak in many instances. One vessel lost 27 in her passage from 
New York to Medford, and 7 died the night they were put ashore; and 
they are dying all along the roads. Most who have got home in the 
neighboring towns, are taken with the small pox, which undoubtedly was 
given them by design. All this does not seem to discourage the few 
surviving ones. They pray that God would only give them health and 
strength again, and they are determined to have sweet revenge." 

"Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. v, pp. 166, 170, 424, 
431; Bolton, "Private Soldier under Washington," p. 187; Stiffel, 
"Records of the Revolution; " Onderdonk, "Incidents," p. 207. 



" Complaints of the usage of the prisoners both in the land and sea 
service have been the subject of many of my letters to Lord and General 
Howe, but all the satisfaction or answer that I could ever obtain was 
that the reports were groundless. However, upon the authority of Capt. 
Gamble's relation, and the miserable, emaciated countenances of these 
poor creatures who have lately been released, I shall take the liberty of 
remonstrating sharply with his Lordship and the General, and let them 
know in very plain terms, that if their rule of conduct towards our 
prisoners is not altered, we shall be obliged, however disagreeable it 
may be, to make retaliation." (Writings of Washington, Ford edition, 
vol. v, p. 170 note. 

The Americans who were taken to prisons in England had 
also their tales of horror; but mitigated to a great extent by 
philanthropic efforts of the English Whigs, who raised sub- 
scriptions of over 3815 to provide clothes and food; and 
David Hartley and the Rev. Thomas Wren paid regular visits 
to the prisons. Franklin also raised money for them in 
France. And the most remarkable contrast to the prisons 
in Philadelphia and New York was the conduct of General 
Carleton in Canada, who in all his campaigns was so kind 
and humane to prisoners, and discharged them so soon on 
parole, with new clothes and presents of wine and food, that 
these men on their return were kept away from the starv- 
ing and ragged patriotic forces, whose devotion to the cause 
might, it was feared, be weakened by the relation of Carle- 
ton's kindness. 14 

So many prisoners were reduced to living skeletons in 
Philadelphia and New York, that great difficulty was ex- 
perienced all through the Eevolution in arranging any ex- 
change of prisoners. As a rule only officers could be 
exchanged. If private was exchanged for private it was all 
in favor of the British, for the emaciated American soon died, 
often on his way home, and in any event had not health 
enough left to go to war again. But the healthy and well- 
fed Englishman could go back to his regiment or at the worst 

14 Bolton, "Private Soldier under Washington," p. 186; Lee, Memoirs, 
vol. ii, p. 368. 



relieve in some British possession a strong soldier who could 
be sent to America. 

. Washington attempted to, refuse to exchange man for man 
when his own man was little better than a corpse; but he 
was not successful in settling a definite basis; and the whole 
subject became involved in endless dispute and negotiation. 
The British took more of us prisoner than we took of them, 
and it is possible that the system of starvation and cruelty 
becoming of such manifest advantage, was tacitly encouraged. 
The Congress, too, was slow to urge any exchange which was 
of such enormous advantage to the enemy. Many prisoners, 
especially among the privateersmen, seeing no prospects of 
relief and feeling that the Congress had forgotten them, en- 
tered the enemy's service; and thousands of other Americans 
served their country only by remaining unexchanged for 
years until death relieved their misery. 15 

During the last three years of the war under Clinton the 
British were apparently much more humane in their treatment 
of prisoners. There is very little evidence of American cru- 
elty to prisoners, except in the case of imprisoned loyalists, 
who often endured much suffering, and some letters on the 
subject will be found scattered through the volumes of the 
American Archives. In New York many loyalists were im- 
prisoned under the Court House at Kingston, in which the 
patriot Provincial convention held its sessions. These pris- 
oners were kept in such a state of crowding and filth, that 
the stench rose up into the room of the convention; and a 
curious resolution was passed on motion of Gouverneur Morris, 
describing the "nauseous and disagreeable effluvia" in which 

"Bolton, "Private Soldier under Washington," pp. 191, 192; Writ- 
ings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, pp. 215, 226, 243, 461 note, 472; 
vol. 8, pp. 54, 339, 360,. 361; vol. 9, pp. 423, 445, and title "Prisoners" 
in index; Gordon, "American Revolution," edition (London) 1788, vol. 
iii, p. 492; Boudinot's Journal, pp. 9-19, 43, 44, 56-59; J. J. Boudinot, 
"Life of Boudinot," vol. i, pp. 76, 81-88, 90-98, 102-104, 160; Winsor, 
Handbook of the Revolution," p. 200. 



the members were compelled to sit, and allowing them to 
smoke "for the preservation of their health." 16 

A shocking condition of dirt and disease was, however, 
common to all prisons at that time; for the cleanliness and 
order of modern prisons, started by the Quakers, had not 
gathered much headway. The crowding of the jail at 
Kingston at last became so intolerable to the convention, in 
spite of the smoking privilege, that many of the loyalists 
were removed and confined in the prison ships at Esopus on 
the Hudson. When Clinton took the Hudson Highlands on 
his way to assist Burgoyne, these prison ships were run up 
Esopus Creek and burnt, and Judge Jones says that one hun- 
dred and fifty of the loyalists were burnt in them. But this 
buraing of the loyalists lacks confirmation from other sources, 
and is believed to be without foundation. 

The officers at Valley Forge, of course, fared better than 
the men ; and in spring there was some relief to the suffering. 
There was so little apprehension from the British that Wash- 
ington 's wife and the wives of the other officers arrived to 
live with their husbands as at Morristown in the previous 
winter. Officers and wives, with the numerous French and 
foreign officers, formed an agreeable society in the long win- 
ter evenings; and we learn that there was a pleasant side 
to the life at Valley Forge. It certainly had its humorous 
side, when an officer, covered with a sort of dressing-gown 
made of an old blanket or faded bed quilt, paraded his half- 
naked men with their rusty firelocks. 

In spite of the famine and destitution Washington was 
making the most strenuous exertion to discipline his ragged men 
and teach them more thoroughly the art of war. To save 
them from future attacks of the smallpox he had actually, in 
that terrible winter and in their naked condition, had them 
all inoculated with the disease after the manner of the 

18 Jones, " New York In the Eevolutiofc," vol. i, pp. 220, 705-710. See 
also Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. v, p. 426. 



time; and Harry Lee describes the result as successful and 
beneficial. 17 

On tlie 23rd of February, Baron Steuben, an officer who 
had served with Frederick the Great, arrived and was re- 
ceived with the greatest distinction and rejoicing. He imme- 
diately began to drill the troops in the manual of arms and 
the ordinary evolutions which are now considered necessary in 
every village militia company. The patriot army had been 
fighting for three years without any of this discipline. They 
could not wheel to right or left, form into column or do the 
simplest thing in a soldierlike way. They moved about and 
obeyed orders like volunteer Indian fighters on the frontier 
or a sheriff's posse of farmers. Their merit as an army con- 
sisted in their belief in the cause and the intelligent interest 
which each man willingly gave to the business of fighting. 
They were ridiculous when they attempted to handle a musket 
on parade ; but when they raised it to their eye and pressed the 
trigger there was a different story to tell. 

Strange to say, there seems to have been no one in the 
country who was able or willing to teach this ordinary drill 
manual until Steuben arrived. It has sometimes been as- 
sumed that he came out to us as an ardent lover of liberty, 
like Lafayette. But he had no particular interest in our cause 
and came out somewhat against his will. He was not a man 
of any broad military ability, and his rank in Europe was 
only that of colonel. But he was known to have acquired 
very exact knowledge of detail and organization in his service 
under Frederick the Great; and for this reason the French 
Government sent him out to America to give Washington's 
army what it was believed to stand in greatest need of. 

The French Court had begun their secret negotiations with 
Steuben in the spring of 1777, Their desire to secure his 
services, and their persistence in persuading him when he at 
first refused, show not only their extreme willingness to help 

" G. W. Greene, " Life of Nathanael Greene," vol. i, p. 571 ; Kapp, 
"Life of Stenben," p. 118,- Lee, Memoirs, vol. i, p. 48. 



the Americans long before the surrender of Burgoyne, but 
also their accurate knowledge of the conditions which pre- 
vailed in our army. The greatest pains were taken to make 
Steuben's mission successful. He was to go out with the 
appearance of an enthusiastic volunteer like Lafayette and 
make no arrogant demands for pay and rank. His real char- 
acter as a representative of the French government must be 
concealed ; for Prance was as yet at peace with England, and 
could not openly assist the Americans, 

The great difficulty was how the Congress, which was not 
in the secret, could be persuaded to give this simple volunteer 
such a rank as would enable him to influence the organization 
of the army. His European rank of colonel would be very 
unimpressive in America where colonels were more numer- 
ous than blacksmiths and doctors. But French diplomacy came 
to the rescue and he was declared to be a lieutenant-general 
of the Margraviate of Baden, which was very magnificent, and 
the Congress immediately made him an inspector-general. 

He proved to be an accomplished man of the world, genial, 
sensible and not a-shamed to descend to the most minute de- 
tails. He took the musket in his hands to show its use and 
performed all the duties of a drill sergeant. He formed the 
officers into squads and drilled them so that they could teach 
the men. Humorous stories were told of his struggles with 
the English language, and at first most of his orders, as well 
as his witticisms and gallantries with the ladies had to be 
translated for him by a clever young Frenchman who after- 
wards became a prominent lawyer of Philadelphia, Peter S. 
Duponceau. 18 

"Kapp's "Life of Steuben," pp. 67, 74; Gordon, "American Revolu- 
tion," supra, vol. iii, pp. 67, 68. See also Pontigbaud, " A French Volun- 
teer in the War of Independence," pp. 70, 195, 126, 202; Writings of 
Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, p. 386 note, 505 note, 507. 



ON the 6th of May Washington made to the army 
the formal announcement of the French alliance, and the 
whole day was given up to rejoicing. The tattered troops 
paraded and displayed their newly acquired efficiency in drill. 
There were salvos of artillery, running fire of musketry and 
at intervals all the troops shouted "Long live the King of 
France," "Long live the Friendly European Powers," and 
finally after a great outburst of artillery and musketry, they 
shouted "The American States." 

" The army made a most brilliant appearance; after which his 
excellency dined in public with all the officers, attended with a band of 
music. I never was present where there was such unfeigned and perfect 
joy as was discovered in every countenance. The entertainment was 
concluded with a number of patriotic toasts attended with huzzas. When 
the General took his leave there was a universal clap with loud huzzas, 
which continued till he had proceeded a quarter of a mile, during which 
time there were a thousand hats tossed in the air. His Excellency turned 
round with his retinue and huzzaed several times." (Writings of Wash- 
ington, Ford edition, vol. vii, p. 4.) 

The British in Philadelphia had in their turn a great 
event to celebrate in the retirement of General Howe, whose 
resignation had been accepted, and they gave him a magnifi- 
cent farewell entertainment. In London many seem to have 
believed that he would not come home until he had attempted 
some bold stroke to retrieve his credit; or perhaps he would 
negotiate some sort of accommodation or compromise with the 
patriots. 1 

1 " Diary and Letters of Thomas Hutchinson," vol. i, p. 201. Germain 
wrote to Howe February 4, 1778, that the King had accepted his resigna- 
tion, and this letter was received by Howe in Philadelphia on the 9th of 
April. (Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, p. 494 and note.) 



But these people did not understand the General. There 
was nothing now to keep him in America. His work was 
done. He could do no more either for the Whigs or for the 
Americans, and he might as well return to his place in Parlia- 
ment and at Almacks. London was more interesting than the 
colonies, even when assisted by Mrs. Loring. If the charge is 
true that he had purposely allowed the rebellion to develop, 
he could now laugh at the Tory Ministry ; and his voluntary 
retirement was an open Whig declaration to all Europe that 
the attempt of the Government to establish its sovereignty in 
the colonies would not only fail, but had already failed. 

His career and the gaiety of his sojourn in Philadelphia 
reached their climax in May, when some of the officers sub- 
scribed among themselves to give a magnificent fete and 
tournament for the amusement of the loyalist ladies and in 
honor of the general who was about to return to England. 
It was called the Misehianza, or Medley, and was an imita- 
tion of one given at Lord Derby's country-seat in England 
four years before, for which General Burgoyne had written 
his play, " The Maid of the Oaks." It was too bad the poor 
fellow could not be in Philadelphia to help at this one. But 
the taste and versatile accomplishments of Major Andre were 
amply sufficient. We understand Andre's character better 
when we remember that both his parents were French. 

The town was ransacked for blue, gold, and scarlet cloth 
and every article of finery that could be found. Andr6, with 
the officers and the ladies, was busy in designing extravagant 
costumes, and in decorating the house at the Wharton coun- 
try place on the southern outskirts of the town. Wooden 
buildings and review stands were added to the house, and 
the grounds arranged for the tournament. 

The great ball-room was pale blue and rose pink, panelled 
with a small gold bead, and gorgeous with festoons of flowers ; 
and these decorations were heightened with eighty-five great 
mirrors decked with rose-pink silk, ribbons and artificial 
flowers. The supper-room was two hundred and ten feet long 
by forty feet wide and twenty-two feet high, decorated in a 



similar way, and with fifty-six large pier glasses and hun- 
dreds of branches, lights, lustres, and tapers. Besides all 
this, there were drawing-rooms, card-rooms, and alcoves; and, 
most interesting of all, Andr6 himself was there, so glib in 
technical terms and the name for every shade of ribbon or 

Andre designed the invitation card. It was a shield with 
General Howe's crest and a view of the ocean and the setting 
sun. Any unfavorable implication in the setting sun was 
saved by a Latin motto to the effect that the sun was setting 
only to rise in greater splendor. 2 

On the afternoon of the 18th of May the fete began- with a 
grand regatta, which started on the river just where the line of 
redoubts touched the water-side. There were galleys, barges, 
and boats of all sorts covered with streamers and pennants, 
filled with ladies and officers, accompanied by all the bands 
and music of the army and surrounding the great central 
"Huzzar" galley, with General Howe and the admiral on board. 
Barges kept the swarms of spectators' boats from pressing on 
the procession. The transports, gayly decorated and crowded 
with spectators, were placed in a line the whole length of 
the town's water-front. The men-of-war anchored in line out 
in the stream, manned their yards, and covered their rigging 
with the flags of all nations, among which could be seen the 
patriot stars and stripes. The broadsides thundered salutes, 
and great clouds of white smoke rolled along the tide, while 
the procession of galleys, heaped up with the most brilliant 
colored costumes, passed along. There had never been such a 
scene upon the Delaware. 

The procession passed down the river to the southern end 
of the town opposite to the Wharton villa, and there, while 
the cannonading still continued, they landed on the pretty 
gravel beach and made another procession between lines of 

* A British writer of that time suggested that Howe be- raised to the 
peerage under the title Baron Belay Warr. Jones, "New York in the 
Revolution," vol. i, p. 197. 



grenadiers and cavalry up through the lawn of the old coun- 
try place to the. pavilions. The trumpets sounded, the bands 
played again, and the mock tournament began on horses most 
richly caparisoned, ridden by knights and esquires, in white 
and red silk, with banners, pennants, and mottoes. The eye 
was dazzled by the gorgeous display of gold and blue and scar- 
let; and the lavishness of outlay and extravagance would 
have fed and clothed the patriots for the rest of the war. 

There were ladies in gorgeous Turkish costumes with won- 
drous high turbans. Blue-jackets from the ships stood in 
picturesque attitudes with drawn cutlasses. There were lines 
of jet-black slaves in Oriental costumes, with big silver col- 
lars round their necks and silver bracelets on their naked 
arms, who bent their heads to the ground as the general and 
the admiral, the mighty conquerors of all America, passed by. 

The trumpets were flourishing, the knights were shivering 
their spears and clattering their swords in what seemed a 
terrible conflict for the favor of the ladies, and everywhere 
could be seen their extraordinary and infinitely silly mottoes 
about love and glory. Heralds in black and orange dashed 
here and there on their horses and there were proclamations 
that the knights of the Burning Mountain would contend, not 
by words, but by deeds, and prove that the ladies of the 
Burning Mountain excelled in virtue and beauty all others in 
the universe. And at last all the ladies, by their heralds, 
stopped the supposed horrible carnage and declared them- 
selves satisfied. 

But why should we tell how, when the tournament was 
over, they crowded about in the old country place, among tri- 
umphal arches, columns in the Tuscan order, imitation Sienna 
marble, boom-shells, and flaming hearts, and as night came 
on divided themselves among the faro-tables, the supper-room, 
and the dancing-hall? 

At ten they had fireworks, beginning with "a magnifi- 
cent bouquet of rockets, ".as Andr6 described it. The tri- 
umphal arches were illuminated with streaming. rockets, burst- 
ing balloons, and transparencies. The shells and flaming 



hearts sent forth Chinese .fountains. It was a most wonderful 
feu d' 'artifice, as Andre kept explaining; and why an army 
that had brought such a supply of fireworks with them had 
failed to put down the little rebellion was the mystery which 
he did not explain. The chief engineer had charge of the feu 
d'artifice, and his resources seemed to be boundless. At the 
end, Fame appeared at the top of all the arches, spangled 
with stars, and blowing from her trumpet to Conquerer Howe, 
in letters of light, the legend, "Thy laurels shall never fade," 
followed by a great jauteur of rockets as a punctuation mark 
to the legend. 

Then they all hurried back to the card-rooms, the supper- 
rooms, and the dancing-hall, and gambled, ate, and danced till 
morning, while all the bands of the army were playing and 
the wine was flowing to celebrate the most wonderful general 
that ever fought a war, and who had already accomplished 
a more extraordinary feat of arms than the world had ever 
known. 3 

8 The Mischianza was described in full detail in a letter by Andre* 
to a friend in England, which has been several times reprinted, and can 
be found in Jones's " New York in the Revolution," vol. i, pp. 242-252, 



THE day after the Mischianza the British came within an 
ace of making some of its boasting real; for in a moment of 
incaution Washington had placed 2500 picked men, the flower 
of his army, in a position where the lion's jaws could close 
upon them. 

He had put Lafayette in command of these men and in- 
structed him to approach the enemy's lines, cover the country 
between the Delaware and the Sehuylkill, interrupt communi- 
cation with Philadelphia and obtain intelligence of the de- 
signs of the British, as it was probable that they were prepar- 
ing to evacuate the town. The obtaining intelligence of their 
designs was, according to his written instructions, the most 
important part of Lafayette's duties and he was directed to 
employ trusty and intelligent spies. 

"Washington was aware that he was sending his favorite 
young Frenchman on a very dangerous business. He re- 
minded him that his detachment was a very valuable one and 
that its loss would be a severe blow to the army. He must 
take every precaution to guard against surprise. 

In fact, the danger was evidently so great that it is at 
first difficult to understand why Washington was willing to 
risk twenty-five hundred of his best troops for the sake of 
gaining a doubtful or very small advantage. It was a viola- 
tion of his well-known rule against isolated detachments, 
which he was usually very strenuous in upholding * ; and when 
we read carefully the instructions to Lafayette a suspicion at 

1 (f A superior army/* he said, " may fall a victim to an inferior army 
by an injudicious division." (Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. 
v, p. 281; vol. ii, p. 257.-) 



once arises that there may have been some other reasons for 
sending him beside those which are avowed. .Why should 
such a taken merely to obtain information and employ 
spies? Washington -could send spies from Valley Forge and 
had already done so and received information by them. 
He already had troops between the Delaware and the Schuyl- 
kill, who, being rough riders, and a.cting in small bands, could 
obtain information and watch movements of the British much 
better than Lafayette's large detachment. Lafayette was 
told that he was to consider himself in command of these rough 
riders already on the ground and investigate some complaints 
that had been made against them for disorderly conduct. But 
this, like the others, seems a very slight and unnecessary duty 
on which to risk 2500 men. 2 

Pontgibaud, who accompanied the expedition, says that it 
was sent partly from policy and partly to give Lafayette a 
chance to distinguish himself. In the previous autumn Wash- 
ington had written the Congress that he was in a delicate 
situation with regard to Lafayette, who was constantly press- 
ing for a command. He did not want to give it to him, and 
yet at the same time he realized that the young man, through 
his important connections in Prance, and his cheerful en- 
couraging letters to his friends at home, was doing a world 
of good to the patriot cause. It might be advisable to gratify 
his wishes; and very likely this is the whole explanation of 
the Barren Hill affair which came so near being a terrible 
disaster. 3 

. So the young Frenchman with his 2500 picked meq. 
marched down the Schuylkill on the 18th of May, crossed it 
and took a position on Barren Hill, some ten or twelve miles 
fr,om Philadelphia, with his right wing extending to some 
rocks on the river, and his left resting. on some stone houses 

* Writings of Washington, Ford edition, Tol. vii, pp. 15, 20, 21, '24. 

* Pontgibaud, " A French Volunteer in the War of Independence/* 
p. 53; Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, pp. 161; 224. 

Voh 1110 145 


and a wood. To this precaution of remaining near the river, 
Lafayette added videttes and patrols on the roads to keep a 
careful watch. This was his first important command, and 
he showed the same good sense and careful judgment which 
he always displayed in our service. He had no opportunity 
for brilliant aggressiveness and was possibly not a brilliant 
soldier. But at Barren Hill, as afterwards, in Virginia, he 
was alert, watchful and prompt. 

The warlike spirit of Britain which had slumbered all 
winter in Philadelphia appears to have been aroused at last 
by the mock fight of the Mischianza, and the very next day 
General Grant with seven thousand men started to catch the 
little French Marquis. It would have been so neat to have 
taken him to England in a ship when they evacuated the city. 
They felt so sure of him that preparations, it is said, were 
made, to have him at a grand dinner the next evening in the 
city and a frigate was prepared to take him a prisoner to 

Although Howe and one or two of his officers testified be- 
fore Parliament, that they never could learn anything about 
the movements of the enemy, they appear to have known all 
about Lafayette on Barren Hill within a few hours after he 
reached it; and Pontgibaud says that British spies were among 
the patriot troops. 

General Grant appears to have started from Philadelphia in 
the afternoon or evening of the 19th of May, and making a long 
detour to the eastward by Frankford crossed over to White- 
marsh during the night and just before daybreak came down 
along the Schuylkill to strike the Marquis in the rear, while 
another force under Clinton and Howe coming direct from 
Philadelphia was to attack him in front. The Marquis had 
six hundred militia stationed on the Whitemarsh road; but 
they abandoned their post so that Grant had approached very 
close to Barren Hill just before daybreak, and the trap was 
almost complete. 

Pontgibaud was lying on the ground when a surgeon came 



and told him of the approach of the British and also of a ford 
he had discovered close by which would give a chance of im- 
mediate retreat across the river. The existence of this cross- 
ing, Matson's Ford, had not been known, Pontgibaud says, 
to any of them until the surgeon accidentally discovered it in 
exploring the neighborhood. 

Lafayette, who was talking with a young woman whom he 
intended to send as a spy to Philadelphia, was aroused by 
the conversation with the surgeon, came to inquire into it, 
and when told the whole story, immediately began an investi- 
gation. He found a column near his left which was presum- 
ably the force under Clinton and Howe, which was to attack 
his front. He had scarcely changed his formation to meet 
this danger when he found himself cut off in the rear by 
Grant's force, and his men began to cry that they were sur- 
rounded. Assuming a smiling countenance, to encourage his 
troops, he instantly began a retreat to the ford. 

Grant was nearer to it; but surprised at the sudden ap- 
pearance of Lafayette's force, he spent so much time in recon- 
noitring it, and was so deceived by the appearance of num- 
bers which the Frenchman cleverly assumed by presenting to 
him false heads of columns among the trees, that the whole 
patriot force, favored no doubt by the darkness, was across 
the river before the British reached the ford. 4 

It was a narrow and lucky escape. If Grant had known 
of the ford and had seized it or accidentally placed himself 
between it and Lafayette, he would have enabled Howe and 
Clinton, who were approaching, from Philadelphia, to cut 
to pieces the whole patriot detachment. 

Washington learning of the danger had ordered all the 

4 Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, p. 90; 
"Memoirs and Correspondence of Lafayette," London edition of 1837, 
vol. i, pp. 46-48 ; Pontgibaud, " A French Volunteer in the War of 
Independence," p. 53; Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vii, 
p. 31. 



heavy artillery at Valley Forge to be fired to arouse appre- 
hensions in the British of a general movement of the whole 
American army. The quick retreat of the Marquis was cred- 
ited to the improved disclipine under the teaching of Steuben. 
But Washington was careful to risk no more valuable detach- 
ments to watch for the evacuation of Philadelphia. He kept 
entirely away from the eity and allowed the British to move 
out at their leisure. 



WHEN it was known in Philadelphia in May, 1778, that the 
city was to be evacuated, and, as rumor had it, the war aban- 
doned, a number of loyalists, who as magistrates and other civil 
officers had been assisting Howe to govern the city, were not 
unnaturally alarmed. If they should remain after the evacua- 
tion and fall into the hands of the patriots their fate might 
be a sorrowful one* They accordingly waited upon Howe, 
asked for his advice and asked also if the war was really to 
be abandoned. Howe gave them, it is said, no positive answer; 
but advised them to apply for a flag, go to Washington and 
endeavor through his means to make their peace with the 
Congress. 1 

This was certainly very extraordinary, that a British gen- 
eral on his retirement should advise his own officials 'to go 
over to the enemy and make the best arrangements they could. 
The loyalists believed it to be another proof of Howe's secret 
Whig purpose of letting the rebellion succeed and of his con- 
viction that it had already succeeded and that the war would 
soon be ended. 

Galloway and his friends, shocked and . surprised, imme- 
diately repaired to General Clinton who was to be Howe's suc- 
cessor; and Clinton too was surprised when told what Howe 
had said. He assured Galloway that the war was not to 
be abandoned ; but continued with the utmost vigor y and that 
his Majesty's loyal subjects were not expected to go over to 
the enemy. 

General Howe remained in Philadelphia until it was 

1 Galloway, " Examination Before House of Commons," p. 36 ; Jones, 
'New York in the Revolution/' vol. i, pp. 239, 240. 



evacuated on the 18th of June, when he returned to England 
with part of the fleet, while his brother, the Admiral, with the 
rest of the fleet, went to New York, and remained on the coast 
until October. Galloway and most of the loyalists very wisely 
decided to go to England with General Howe and some three 
thousand of them are said to have accompanied him. They 
were best away; for the lives of many of them would have 
been in danger if they remained, and few, if any, of them 
would have become real Americans. 2 

General Howe returned, "Walpole said, ''richer in money 
than in laurels;" and another London wit remarked that he 
had no bays except those which drew his coach. But, with that 
supreme indifference which always characterized him, he seems 
to have been entirely satisfied with what he had accomplished. 
He assumed, it is said, a more luxurious style of living. Some 
said that he had made a great deal of money by his command ; 
others that he had made very little. 8 

When he resumed his seat in Parliament the Tories and 
the Ministry were scarcely willing to assail him for having 
been too easy with the patriots, because, as cousin of the King 
and from other circumstances of character and long service 
in war and politics, his position was a strong one and his in- 
fluence powerful. His motives were suspected and a large 
part of the public thought they saw numerous instances of 
his ulterior purpose in carrying on the war; but the actual 
proof of such motives would be difficult to obtain and the for- 
mal attempt to prove them would raise an unpleasant scandal. 
Moreover, he had been the Ministry's own appointed general, 
specially commissioned to carry out the sword and olive- 
branch policy. Having trusted to his discretion to carry out 
their sword and olive-branch policy, it would be rather awk- 
ward for them to assail him for having waved the olive-branch 
to excess. In condemning him they would merely be proving 
their own mistake and playing into the hands of the "Whigs. 

W. B. Reed, "Life of Joseph Reed," vol. i, p. 379. 
'"Diary and Letters of Thomas Hutchinson," vol. ii, p. 336. 



Their disgust and their desire to punish him were ill-con- 
cealed. Attacks upon him appeared in print in all sorts of 
forms, and he finally asked for a committee of inquiry in 
Parliament. The Ministry resisted this inquiry, knowing that 
it was intended as a covert attack upon themselves, and would 
be used to assist the "Whigs, who indeed appear to have been 
more anxious than Howe to have the investigation begun. 

" Last night the House of Commons resolved to go into an enquiry 
upon Howe's motion. Lord North spake against it, but there was no 
division. This affair causes a great jumble. I think it probable Howe 
himself, who made the motion, was content it should rest, but Charles 
Fox, hoping to bring Lord George into trouble, would not suffer it. On 
the other hand, Mr. Rigby and some others expect to set Howe in a bad 
light, and fell off from Lord North; or possibly Lord North himself did 
not care much if an enquiry should be made, provided it does not come 
from him." (" Diary and Letters of Thomas Hutchinson," vol. ii, p. 256.) 

The inquiry began on the 3rd of May, 1779, before the 
House of Commons, sitting as Committee of the Whole; and 
as we have seen in a previous chapter, included an investiga- 
tion into the conduct of Burgoyne. Howe, with the assistance 
of two of his witnesses, Cornwallis and No-Flint Grey, who 
stood by him manfully, certainly succeeded to a considerable 
degree in turning the proceeding to the support of his own 
party and their rallying cry that the American war was 
impracticable. 4 

.Cornwallis began his testimony by expressing the highest 
admiration for the military capacity and genius of his friend. 
He then described America, in a most amusing way, as a coun- 
try of ambuscades at every few yards. It was impossible, he 
said, to learn the nature of the ground, either from the inhab- 

4 Cobbett, "Parliamentary History," vol. xx, pp. 707, 716, 722, 803. 
The testimony and all the debates connected with the inquiry are given in 
tne Parliamentary Register, House of Commons, 1779, vols. xi and xiii. 
A shorter version of the testimony, with the attacks upon Howe, which 
led to the inquiry, was published under the title, " A View of the Evidence 
Relative to the Conduct of the War under Sir W, Howe," etc, 



itants or by reconnoitring, and it was also impossible to obtain 
provisions from the country. 

On the question of the failure to assist Burgoyne he was 
brief, vague and evasive; and refused to give an opinion on 
any of the military movements. On the vital point of Howe's 
reasons for all Ms movements he declined to answer questions, 
because, having been Howe's confidential officer, it would, he 
said, be improper for him to reveal to Parliament what he 
had learned in that capacity. 

When the dashing prisoner-killer, No-Flint Grey, was 
called he also described America as a horrible network of 
ambuscades. He had not the slightest hesitation in giving 
his opinion on any subject. He defended the failure to assist 
Burgoyne, and spent considerable time in showing that it 
was utterly impossible for the largest force Howe might have 
had to pass from New York up to Albany. He impaired the 
value of his testimony by being too willing a witness and 
making sweeping assertions. He said that there were scarcely 
any loyalists in America, and that the people were practi- 
cally unanimous in favor of the rebellion. When asked about 
Valley Forge, he said that the rebels were in such large force 
there that it was impossible to attack them. 

This testimony of Cornwallis and Grey tended so strongly 
to prove the Whig position that the war was impracticable 
that the Ministry were much alarmed and wanted to stop the 
whole proceeding. 

"Upon Ld Cornwallis and General Grey giving their opinion that 
the reduction of America was impracticable a. Cabinet Council was called 
yesterday, and it was moved to let the inquiry before the House rest 
where it is." (" Diary and Letters of Thomas Hutchinson," Vol. ii, p. 257.) 

But the Ministry finally decided to go on. Witnesses were 
called to contradict what Cornwallis and Grey had said; and 
General Robertson and Joseph Galloway proved to be very 
useful for this purpose. General Robertson was an old Scotch- 
man who had risen from the ranks, had served in the French, 
War, and was very familiar with the colonies. He had been 
one of Howe's subordinates, and was military governor of 



New York, in which office he gained a very unsavory reputa- 
tion for having made money by the irregular and fraudulent 
practices which were so common. 5 His testimony, as well as 
that of Galloway, was, however, very clear and intelligent. 
They described the country very much as we know it, denied 
the ambuscades, said it was easy enough to reconnoitre, that 
there was no difficulty in procuring information, and Robert- 
son explained how Burgoyne could have been saved by an 
expedition up the Hudson with a simultaneous attack upon 
New England. 

The Whigs were now in their turn alarmed. The testi- 
mony .was going ,too far. It was not only injuring Howe, but 
was proving that the war was practicable. They tried to 
stop the witnesses; they would agree not to ask for a vote 
of exculpation of Howe if Germain would agree not to con- 
tinue the testimony. But Germain insisted on proceeding, 
and he had, Burgoyne said, some sixteen or eighteen more 
witnesses on his list. The only hope of the Whigs was in the 
adjournment of Parliament, which was only a few days off 
and would stop everything. They delayed the testimony of 
Robertson and Galloway as much as possible by interruptions 
until at last Parliament was prorogued before the testimony 
of Galloway was quite finished. 6 

Howe, throughout the whole proceeding, had shown his 
usual callous and contemptuous indifference. His statement 
or defence before Parliament was afterwards published as his 
'* Narrative," and Galloway criticised it with severity in his 
"Letters to a* Nobleman on the Conduct of the War." Howe 
replied in his "Observations;" and Galloway again assailed 
him in "A Reply to the Observations of Lieutenant-General 
Sir W. Howe." This last attack seems to have been the 

5 See Jones, " New York in the Revolution," vol. i, p. 162, for a very 
hostile loyalist criticism of him. A life of him will be found in Appleton's 
" Cyclopaedia of American Biography." 

8 "Diary and Letters of Thomas Hutchinson," vol. ii, p. 261, and 
note at end of introduction to Burgoyne's " Slate of the Expedition from 



severest and most detailed arraignment of Howe that was 
published. Galloway openly accused him of being in league 
with a large section of the Whigs to let the rebellion go by 
default unless it could be settled in a Whig way without credit 
to the Tories. 

Indeed, several of Howe's accusers were so definite in their 
charges, going into the details of his whole three years' com- 
mand to support what they said, that it is rather surprising 
that the adjournment of Parliament was allowed to end the 
matter. There would seem to have been offence enough for 
three or four duels. 

" While your letters," said Israel Mauduit, " are continually boasting 
that you would bring the enemy to battle and a decisive action your 
motives are ever calculated to prevent it. And with all your fair promises 
it was you that protracted the war and you that avoided a battle much 
more carefully than Mr. Washington did. And when to save appearances 
and seem to do something you did begin an action, you invariably took 
care that it should not be decisive. After the most tedious and affected 
delays and haltings half way to show the rebels your intention and give 
them time to provide against it, you sometimes did expose the King's 
troops to the loss attending an attack; but invariably called them off 
upon its success; and took care never to expose the rebels to the ruin 
attending a rout and pursuit. 

" Five times, sir, even in the beginning of the rebellion, did the rebels' 
ignorance or temerity put them into a situation where they might have 
easily been shut up and destroyed. Five times did your superior care 
or tenderness leave them a way open for their escape." ( " Three Letters 
to Lieut. General Howe," 1781, p. 7.) 

Mauduit asserted that a "Whig had said, "I have no appre- 
hensions from General Howe taking the command; he is one 
of us and will do the Americans no harm." Judge Jones 
said that Howe ought to have been hung. Hutchinson reports 
the same remark made in London ; and it would be easy to fill 
much space with quotations that reveal the very violent feeling 
against him.. 7 

f " Diary and Letters of Thomas Hutchinson," vol. ii, pp. 169, 170, 
172, 173, 177, 185, 222, 336; Stedman, "American War," edition 1794, 
vol. i, p. 384,- Jones, " New York in the Revolution," vol. i, p. 261 ; Annual 
Register, 1779, chap. vii. 



Hutchinson reports a conversation in February, 1780, 
which seems to show that opinion was sometimes divided as 
to whether the Howes had protracted the war for the sake 
of a Whig compromise or for the sake of making money. 

" I thought they all along flattered themselves they should be able to 
effect a conciliation, and therefore, never pursued the rebels to that 
length they otherwise would have done. That they might fancy, he said, 
at first, but it was not possible after two years' experience. They might 
prolong the war, he sometimes thought, for the sake of enriching them- 
selves. The General, he said, certainly lived in a different state from 
what he had ever done before.'* (" Diary and Letters of Thomas Hutchin- 
son," vol. ii, p. 336.) 

Harry Lee, in a review of Howe's campaigns, takes in some 
respects the same view as Galloway and describes Howe's fail- 
ure to join Burgoyne and follow up his advantages at Long 
Island, Brandywine and Valley Forge as most extraordinary 
blunders, inexplicable and " mysterious inertness." But he 
refuses to join the English critics in believing that Howe was 
too friendly to the Revolution ; he cannot think, he says, that an 
English general would be so disloyal ; and he suggests that the 
murderous scenes of his attack on Bunker Hill overwhelmed his 
mind and extinguished his spirit for the rest of the war. 8 

Howe's "Narrative" was a dignified but fallacious de- 
fence. By means of vague general statements he gives the 
impression that the patriot forces always outnumbered his. 
If we can believe him, the American continent was swarming 
with vast hordes of rebels, which almost every hour were 
threatening the destruction of his little army, which the Min- 
istry would not reinforce. It was wonderful that he had main- 
tained himself unannihilated for three years. 

He affected a great inability to obtain information of the 
condition of the country and of Washington's army which 
every one who has studied the history of his campaigns knows 
to be untrue. Washington himself said that it was almost 
useless to try to deceive Howe; for he seemed to have full 

"Lee, Memoirs, vol. i, pp. 49-55. 



information of everything. All of Howe's battles and move- 
ments show that, through the loyalists and his spies, he knew 
the roads, the nature of the country and the exact condition 
of the patriot army almost as accurately as it was known by 
the patriots themselves. The perfect accuracy and timing of 
his movements at Long Island and Brandywine and their 
complete success were quite evidently the action of a man who 
knew every minute detail of the country and of his enemy. 9 

When he gives numbers he gives Ms own force by leaving 
out all the officers; but in counting the patriot force he adds 
officers and imaginary privates without limit. For example, 
at Brandywine, where he had 18,000 and Washington 11,000, 
he says he had only 14,000, but that Washington had "about 
fifteen thousand exclusive of almost any number he pleased 
of militia, " 

By a similar vague statement he makes it appear that the 
patriot forces in the year 1777 were fifty thousand, because 
the Congress had voted to raise that number. He complains 
on almost every page that the reinforcements he was con- 
tinually asking for, with which to meet these innumerable 
hordes, were not furnished Trim. How, then, could he be ex- 
pected to put down such a rebellion? 

The question might be asked how it happened, when the 
patriots were so numerous and dangerous, and his army was so 
small, that he placed two small outposts of fifteen hundred 
men each at Trenton and Bordentown, fifty miles away from 
his main army at New York?- 

He describes the natural difficulties of the country, the 
opportunities for ambuscades, and the heat of the weather 
as insurmountable obstacles* If he had not always taken the 
greatest care in not going too near the vast masses of patriots, 
and in not letting them come near him, there would have been 
the greatest hazard to the King's troops. But he had always 
protected his army from the slightest check. His plan had 
been to keep his army intact ; keep up the show of force and 

* Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, p. 449* 



conciliate the patriots rather than run serious risks or resort 
to acts of severity. 

He attached great importance' to his taking of Philadel- 
phia, and has much to say on the importance of manoeuvring 
and occupying large towns rather than of destroying armies, 
although he admits in one passage that "the defeat of the 
rebel army is the surest road to peace." 10 

H$ took up again his old occupation in Parliament and 
joined heart and hand with the Whigs to prove more and more 
the impracticability of the American war and to cripple the 
administration of Lord North. He afterwards held impor- 
tant military offices, but never again toofc part in active war. 
He lived to the ripe age of eighty-five, dying in 1814, so that 
he saw the second war for independence, and bis brother's 
old friends obtain their independence on the ocean as well 
as on the land. 

10 For further criticisms on Howe, see "A Letter to the People of 
America," p. 63, London, 1778; "Strictures on the Philadelphia Mischi- 
anza, or Triumph on Leaving America Unconquered," London, 1779; 
Stevens, " Fac-similes of MSS.," vol. i, pp. 81, 82. Judge Jones gives a 
good summary of the loyalist view of the conduct of both the Howes. 
(" New York in the Revolution/' vol. i, pp. 252-261.) 



THE plan of ending the war by offering the Americans such 
a compromise as would dissuade them from allying themselves 
with France had been discussed in London before Christmas, 
1777, and in February took definite shape in some measures 
known as the Conciliatory Bills. These bills were introduced 
in Parliament by Lord North on the 17th of February, eleven 
days after the American treaty of alliance with France had 
been signed in Paris. They were hurried through both 
houses in the hope that news of their passage might reach 
America before the Congress had learned of what had been 
done in France and certainly before that body had ratified 
the treaty made in Paris. To this end rough drafts of the bills, 
as soon as they had been introduced in Parliament, were sent 
over to the Congress. 1 

The purpose of the Conciliatory Bills was to make a su- 
preme effort for reconciliation, or compromise, which would pre- 
serve America as some sort of dependency of Great Britain, 
even if attached by a very slender thread. The acts which 
were finally passed began by explaining that taxation by Par- 
liament for the purpose of raising a revenue was found to 
occasion great uneasiness among his Majesty's faithful colo- 
nists in America, who, nevertheless, might be entirely willing 
to make a voluntary contribution, through their local legis- 
latures, towards the common defence of the empire. Therefore, 
no duty or tax would hereafter be imposed by Parliament in 
North America or the West Indies, except such duties as it 

1 Stedman, "American War," vol. ii, pp. 5, 6; Writings of Washing- 
ton, Ford edition, vol. vi, p. 488 note; Gordon, "American Revolution," 
edition 1788, vol. iii, p. 103. 



would be expedient to impose for the purpose of regulating 
commerce ; and the net produce of those duties would be paid 
over for the use of the colony wherein they were levied. 

This, it will be observed, was nearly a literal acceptance of 
the terms put forth in the documents sent to England, as an 
ultimatum by the first Congress in the autumn of 1774, when 
the majority in the Congress were in favor of denying the 
authority of Parliament over the colonies, except as regards 
"our external commerce for the purpose of securing the com- 
mercial advantages of the whole empire." The Ministry had 
evidently studied those documents of 1774 with care, and were 
determined to follow them very closely in this new offer of 

Having made this great concession in the matter of taxa- 
tion, the Conciliatory Acts went on and repealed the famous 
old tea tax and also the act changing the government of Massa- 
chusetts, and then provided that five commissioners should be 
sent to America with very full power for negotiating a com- 
promise on the basis of these repeals. They were authorized 
to negotiate, with any organized body of the people and give 
it the title it preferred, which meant, no doubt, that they 
should recognize the Congress and carry on their negotiations 
with it as well as make a treaty with any single state or dis- 
trict that would submit. They could proclaim a cessation of 
hostilities, grant pardons, appoint temporary governors in any 
of the colonies, and most important of all, suspend the opera- 
tion of any objectionable acts of Parliament which had been 
passed since the 10th of February, 1763. 2 

In other words, although the right of Parliament to regu- 
late the colonies in matters other than taxation was not with- 
drawn, yet the withdrawal of taxation, the repeal of the old tea 
tax, the repeal of the act changing the government of Massa- 

* There were three conciliatory acts, 18 George III, chaps. 11, 12 
and 13. See Gordon, " American Revolution/* edition 1788, vol. iii, pp. 
80, 104, 129; W. B. Reed, "Life of Joseph Reed/' vol. i, pp. 371-399, 
422-437; Snow, " Administration of Dependencies/* pp. 379, 382, 384, 386; 
Correspondence of Henry Laurens, p. 99. 



chusetts, an<J the broad, though vague offer to suspend the 
operation of -any other objectionable acts, was a very great 
concession an,d a remarkable change of front on the part of 
Great Britain. ' 

The instructions to the commissioners were still more lib- 
eral. They were to admit the claim to independence during 
the negotiations. They were to agree that no standing army 
should be kept in America in time of peace, that no colonial 
government or charter should be changed, except by the con- 
sent of its people, and that the colonies be allowed a repre- 
sentation in the British House of Commons. They were also 
to hold out the consideration that, ultimately, the people of 
each colony might be allowed to elect their own governor sub- 
ject to the approval of the Crown. If the people showed a 
tractable disposition and made suitable voluntary contributions 
to the common defence of the empire, still greater privileges 
might be given to them. Trade would be beneficially regulated ; 
the Congress might continue to exist if it did not infringe on 
the sovereignty of the mother country; and the Declaration 
of Independence need not be formally rescinded, but left to be 
inferentially abolished by the adoption of the treaty of peace 
and compromise. 

As to the very vital question whether the Americans might 
not insist that Parliament recede not merely from its right to 
tax, but from its right to regulate the colonies in any case 
whatsoever, the commissioners were instructed to be very care- 
ful and wait for suggestions from the Americans themselves. 8 

The commissioners could not, of course, finally conclude 
any treaty. They could merely negotiate terms according to 
their instructions, and these terms could be finally confirmed 
only by Parliament. If this should raise a suspicion among 
the Americans that the Ministry were not sincere and that all 
these wonderfully liberal offers constituted a mere trap to stop 
the war and lead them back into subjection, the commissioners 

* The instructions are printed in the " Life of Joseph Reed," vol. i, 
pp. 430-436. 



were instructed to point to the acts already passed, the repeal 
of the tea tax and the repeal of the act regulating the govern- 
ment of Massachusetts as proof of sincerity and that all prom- 
ises and terms would be faithfully fulfilled. 

According to an English pamphlet of that time, the ulti- 
mate intentions of the Ministry were even more liberal than 
the terms of the instructions. They intended to allow the 
colonies their own army and navy, Great Britain retaining 
the right of declaring peace or war with foreign powers ; but 
every other sovereign power was to remain with the Congress 
of the colonies. A letter of the time also declares that every- 
thing short of a total independence would be granted. The 
colonists would be allowed to elect their own governors, their 
depreciated paper money would be funded in England, and two 
or three millions in specie lent them if they desired it Under 
such broad terms, the colonies could apparently have obtained 
more self-government than Canada, Australia, or any British 
colony now has, or has any prospect of obtaining, an indepen- 
dence under a protectorate or suzerainty just short of absolute 
independence. 4 

Some of the Whigs, especially the Duke of Eichmond, Fox, 
and other followers of Lord Bockingham, were in favor of 
absolute independence, because it would settle the question at 
once, save expense, and an independent America would trade 
with England as much as, if not more than, colonial America 
had traded. 8 The mass of the Whigs, however, could not very 
well object to the new Tory peace proposals, for they were the 
same that Whigs had often urged. But they were sorry to 
see the Tories taking the wind out of the Whig sails. 

Old Lord Chatham, who, however much he favored the 
Americans, was always furious at the thought of their being 
allowed anything resembling independence, denounced the new 

*"An Examination into the Conduct of the Present Administra- 
tion," etc., p. 54, London, 1779; W. B, Reed, "Life of Joseph Reed," vol. 
i, p. 373. 

8 Parliamentary Debates, March 17, 1778. 
Vol. II 11 161 


proposals. He was carried into the House of Lords to make 
against the proposed peace the last speech of his life. At the 
close he fell fainting into his seat. His favor to the Americans 
did not extend so far as such a peace as that. He wanted the 
colonies to remain subservient dependencies, real colonies, so 
that from his oration on this occasion we do not prepare quo- 
tations for our schoolboys to recite. 

It is not likely that England has ever made such a strong 
effort to bring about a peace as the Ministry attempted in these 
conciliatory acts. Hutchinson says that they first threw out 
hints to be circulated in London to test the temper of the 
nation and see if the people would favor granting indepen- 
dence. Possibly the Ministry had had thoughts of throwing up 
the sponge and acknowledging independence. But judging 
that the people of England were not prepared for this step they 
adopted the plan of a compromise, which, although very close 
to independence, was somewhat vague and if the Americans 
should accept it left .opportunities for reducing them to sub- 
jection in the future. Having finally decided to try for this 
loose sort of compromise, they entered upon a most elaborate 
discussion of methods and the instructions for the commission- 
ers were carefully prepared. 8 

According to Hutchinson, the Tories were thoroughly dis- 
gusted with the Conciliatory Acts and loathed every sentence 
of them. But they all declared that they would vote for them 
and support the Ministry because it was worth while to try their 
effect in drawing the Americans away from France, and stop- 
ping what promised to be a terrible European war. It was 
apparently a deep humiliation for them. It had been supposed 
that a British army never surrendered; and when Burgoyne 
surrendered and surrendered to rebels, it was supposed that 
the bottom of national disgrace had been reached. But when 
the rebels obtained the alliance of France which threatened 
British interests in India and the West Indies, and the Parlia- 

" Diary and Letters of Thomas Hutchinson," vol. ii, pp. 196-199, 
203, 204; Stevens, " Facsimiles of MSS.," vols. 4, 9, 12 and parts 1 and 5. 



ment of the great Anglo-Saxon nation hurriedly appointed a 
peace commission and dispatched it across the water to beg 
or buy a peace from the Americans with unlimited promises, 
the question was very naturally asked if there were to be any 
lower depths of degradation. 

Many were, of course, foretelling the complete extinction 
of England as a world power, and every form of gloomy fore- 
boding was heard in London during the next year ; for in such 
times the melancholy strain in the English nature sets no limit 
to its depression. 

In America it was strongly suspected that the extraordinary 
air of liberality and concession which surrounded the Concilia- 
tory Acts was intended merely as a desperate attempt to excite 
a separation among the colonies and a break up of their union, 
which could be taken advantage of by England. "When a large 
cargo of printed copies of the conciliatory bills was sent to 
Philadelphia and the copies circulated through the country, 
Washington thought at first that they were mere forgeries like 
many other spurious documents sent out by the British to 
encourage loyalists and win over hesitating patriots. 7 

There appears to have been great difficulty in obtaining 
any one of importance in England to serve on the new peace 
commission. No man of force or eminence would accept ; and 
the commission as finally made up of Governor Johnstone, Wil- 
liam Eden and Lord Carlisle, carried no weight from the per- 
sonality of its members. 

Governor Johnstone, the most prominent man on it, was a 
naval officer who, having ruled West Florida for a short time 
under the appointment of Lord Bute, was always spoken of by 
the title "governor," although it was usually contrary to Eng- 
lish taste to refer to a colonial governor by his title. He 
was a Whig member of Parliament, who had taken the 
Burke and Chatham line of argument of extreme friendliness 

T Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, pp. 173, 174; 
Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, pp. 475 note, 480, 482 
note, 483, 485, 492, 497 and notes, 500 note, 509. 



towards the American patriots; and his rather clever and 
effective speeches can be read in the debates. He was a man 
of society and affairs, and had the reputation of being a gal- 
lant duelist, although only three of his duels have been 
recorded. He fought one with Lord George Germain, the 
colonial secretary, in which, after the second shot, Germain 
said: "Mr. Johnstone, your ball struck the barrel of my 
pistol/ ' "I am glad," said Johnstone, "that it was not your 
lordship's body." Johnstone always spoke highly of Ger- 
main's behaviour in this duel, which went a long way towards 
restoring that nobleman's reputation for courage, which had 
been so much damaged at the Battle of Minden. Johnstone 
seems to have acted as the leading member of the commission ; 
and the Ministry, no doubt, thought that they had made a goad 
stroke of policy in putting on the commission a prominent 
Whig for whom the Americans would feel a certain friendliness. 

William Eden, a lawyer, brother of Robert Eden, the last 
colonial governor of Maryland, was the Tory member of the 
commission, and a respectable man of mediocre talents, not at 
all calculated to make an impression in America, He after- 
wards became secretary of Ireland and ambassador to France, 
reaching the peerage under the title of Lord Aucland. 

Lord Carlisle was a Scotch nobleman; a man of fashion 
and letters, of moderate ability, who afterwards became viceroy 
of Ireland and was the uncle and guardian of Lord Byron, the 
poet At the time of his appointment to the commission he 
was only thirty years old, interested in public life, had favored 
a conciliatory policy towards America and was, no doubt, will- 
ing to accept any office that would give him political experi- 
ence. Out of regard for his rank and position as a nobleman 
he was made president and head of the Commission, 8 

To these three were added the two former commissioners, 

*Appleton, "Cyclopaedia of American Biography;" Jones, "New 
York in the Revolution/' vol. i, p. 663; British Dictionary 'of Kational 
"Biography; W. B. Reed, "Life of Joseph Reed," voli i, p. 423; "Diary 
and Letters of Thomas Hutchinson," vol. ii, pp. 197, 201, 202, 214. 



General Howe and Admiral Howe, who, being still in America 
and having had vast experience in the peace and compromise 
business, could receive the three commissioners from England 
and start them on their course. 

No time was lost in dispatching Eden, Johnstone and Car- 
lisle, and on the 21st of April they l$ft England in the "Tri- 
dent." A week before that date a French squadron of twelve 
ships of the line and four large frigates under Count d'Estaing 
sailed from Toulon for America, followed in June by a British 
squadron under Admiral Byron. 

The war-ship "Trident" containing the three peace commis- 
sioners reached Philadelphia about the 6th of June, and to 
their great astonishment they learned that the town was to be 
evacuated within, a few days by orders which had been sent 
out from England. Such a show of weakness would surely, 
they thought, not help their mission and would tend to make 
all peace proposals a mere laughing stock among the patriots. 
Johnstone declared that if he had known of it he would never 
have come out on the commission. He and his fellow com- 
missioners besought Clinton to postpone the evacuation until 
they could negotiate with the Congress. But Clinton replied 
that his orders were peremptory and could not be delayed.* 

In fact, the sailing of the French fleet for America rendered 
it necessary to evacuate Philadelphia quickly or it might not 
be possible to evacuate it at all. The French war vessels would 
blockade the Delaware and keep Clinton *s army and Lord 
Howe's fleet locked up there, until they were starved into 
a surrender. Clinton and Lord Howe had a very narrow escape 
as it was; and when Clinton said that the evacuation could not 
be delayed he spoke the truth. But it was a very unlucky or 
a very bungling piece of statesmanship to have the evacuation 
and the proposals for peace occur at the same time. 

Gordon says that the commissioners themselves brought out the 
sealed and secret orders to evacuate ("American Revolution," edition 
1788, vol. iii, p. 130), but it is probable that the orders had been 
received in Philadelphia some time before the arrival of the commis- 
sioners, ( W. B. Reed, " Life of Joseph Reed/' vol. i, pp. 423, 427.) 



The evacuation was to take place on the 18th of June, so 
that the commissioners had less than two weeks to present 
their proposals to Congress before they would be compelled 
to make an ignominious retreat with the army to New York. 
Clinton sent word to Washington of the arrival of the com- 
missioners and asked for a passport for their secretary, Eev. 
Dr. Ferguson, who wished to carry a letter from them to the 
Congress. The passport was refused and this was their first 
rebuff. They then sent to Washington a letter, together 
with a copy of their commission and other papers, setting forth 
the terms of peace, and Washington sent all these documents 
to the Congress. The formal reading of them proceeded until 
a sentence offensive to France was reached, when the further 
reading was suspended and taken up again some days later, 
when an answer was returned. 10 

The great pains the Ministry had taken to repeal several 
acts of Parliament, withdraw their right of taxation in Amer- 
ica, organize a commission and empower it 'to suspend the 
operation of other acts of Parliament, must necessarily, it 
would seem, be entirely rejected by the Congress. In Novem- 
ber, very soon after the surrender of Burgoyne, the Con- 
gress had passed a resolution declaring that all proposals of 
peace from Europe inconsistent with the independence of 
the United States or with such alliances as they might form 
with foreign nations would be rejected. This was to assure 
France that they would not compromise, but would stand out 
for absolute independence. In April when they received the 
rough drafts of the conciliatory bills that had been introduced 
in Parliament they passed resolutions denouncing those bills 
as a mere insidious scheme to disunite the American states 
and prevent foreign powers from interfering in their behalf. 
On the 3rd of May they received for ratification the treaty with 
France that had been made by their commissioners in Paris, 

10 Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, p. 129; 
Journal of the Congress, vol. ii, pp. 588, 590; Writings of Washington, 
Ford edition, vol. vii, pp. 58, 59, 60 and notes. 



and they ratified it. How then could they in June, under any 
rules of honor or common sense, compromise with England 
and accept from her less than absolute independence? Our 
treaty with France was an offensive and defensive alliance, in 
which we stipulated to maintain our absolute independence; 
and, unless we achieved entire independence of Great Britain, 
France had no object in making an alliance with us. If we 
returned to any sort of relationship or compromise with Eng- 
land such a combination of the Anglo-Saxon race would be 
dangerous to France and all the continent of Europe. It was 
the mission of France to separate, not unite, the Anglo-Saxons. 

The Congress, therefore, could return only one answer. 
They referred to their resolutions passed in April. They had 
hesitated, they said, about reading a document which contained 
expressions disrespectful to their ally. They resented the as- 
sumption implied in repealing the acts of Parliament, and 
which also appeared in every document of the commissioners, 
that the people of the United States were still the subjects 
of Great Britain. They were inclined to peace and would 
willingly negotiate with Great Britain a treaty of peace and 
commerce, which should acknowledge the independence of the 
United States and not be inconsistent with their treaty with 
France. 11 

This was undoubtedly the right position to take. It was the 
position of the most extreme and devoted patriots and it was the 
position which finally prevailed. But the party led by Richard 
Henry Lee and the Adamses, which had assisted the cabal 
Against Washington, was always inclined to break loose from 
France and negotiate with England without regard to France, 
The British Conciliatory Acts and peace commission were 
shrewdly designed to develop this party, and the decision of 
the Congress to stand by France was not accepted by the patriot 

31 Journals of the Congress, vol. ii, pp. 345, 521-524, 591-592; Sted- 
man, "American War," vol. ii, p. 9. The commissioners sent to the 
Congress a second letter, and it was voted that no answer to it should 
be returned. Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vii, p. 120 note. 



party at large without debate and discussion. The Concilia- 
tory Acts, while on their face peace propositions, were very 
cunning war measures, intended to divide and break up the 
patriot party by the magnificence and liberality of the terms. 
They constituted a drag net which might bring peace or some- 
thing that would offset the French alliance or give some 
advantage to the empire. 

The definite part of the plan, the measures actually passed 
by Parliament, withdrawal of taxation and the repeal of two 
obnoxious acts, did not when critically examined, go very far. 
But the indefinite and fascinating promises which were vaguely 
and irresponsibly added seemed to indicate a friendliness and 
liberality from which great things might be expected. These 
new commissioners seemed to have powers for negotiation and 
compromise which had been lacking two years before when the 
Howe brothers offered reconciliation and peace. All this had 
an effect, and during that summer of 1778, in spite of the de- 
cision of the Congress and in spite of the patriot meetings at 
which the printed peace proposals were publicly burnt, there 
was great discussion of the subject, doubts, weakening, hesi- 
tation, and desire to meet half way even among staunch patriots. 
It was precisely what England wanted, and it threatened to 
disrupt the patriot party. 

General Lee, who had been exchanged and had joined the 
army at Valley Forge, thought that this broad offer from 
England should not be slighted, that such an opportunity for 
the most favorable possible compromise should, at least, be 
seriously considered, the commissioners received and negotia- 
tions started. According to Lafayette, this view was so strongly 
held among a majority of Washington's officers, that they 
were unwilling to attack Clinton in his retreat across New 
Jersey, because it might jeopardize possible negotiations with 
the peace commissioners. 12 

""Memoirs and Correspondence of Lafayette/' London edition of 
1837, vol. i, pp. 50, 51; Arnold, "Life of General Arnold," p. 330; "Life 
of John Jay/' p. 53, 



On the 16th of June, the day before the peace proposals 
had been formally rejected by the Congress, Governor John- 
stone had written to Robert Morris intimating that there would 
be high rewards for Washington and the President of the 
Congress, if they would bring about a compromise which would 
restore America to England. 

"I believe the men who have conducted the affairs of America 
incapable of being influenced by improper motives ; but in all such trans- 
actions there is risk, and I think that whoever ventures should be 
secured; at the same time, that honor and emolument should naturally 
follow the fortune of those who have steered the vessel in the storm, and 
brought her safely to port, I think Washington and the President have 
a right to every favor that grateful nations can bestow if they could 
once more unite our interest, and spare the miseries and devastations of 
war." (Gordon, "American Revolution," vol. iii, p. 171; W. B. Reed, 
" Life of Joseph Reed," vol. i, p. 379.) 

On the same day that Johnstone wrote this letter he appears 
to have had a conversation in Philadelphia with Mrs. Hugh 
Henry Ferguson, a loyalist, whose husband was one of the 
British commissaries of prisoners; and Johnstone 's purpose 
in this conversation was to discover how he could approach 
and influence General Reed, who was now a member of the 

"Mrs. Ferguson," says he, and I think he looked a little confused, 
*' if this affair should be settled in the way we wish, we shall have many 
pretty things in our power, and if Mr. Reed, after well considering the 
nature of the dispute, can, conformable to his conscience and view of 
things, exert his influence to settle the contest, he may command ten 
thousand guineas and the best post in the government; and if you should 
see him I could wish you would convey that idea to him." (W. B. Reed, 
"Life of Joseph Reed," vol. i, p. 384.) 

The next day the Congress, which was sitting at York, 
Pennsylvania, formally rejected the peace proposals. The day 
after that Philadelphia was evacuated and the peace commis- 
sioners were bundled into the ships of the fleet to take refuge 
in New York. General Eeed came into Philadelphia a few 
hours after the evacuation, He did not see Mrs. Ferguson until 
the evening of the 21st, when, the message being delivered to 
him ? he replied that his influence in Congress was small, "but 



were it as great as Governor Johnstone would insinuate, the 
King of Great Britain has nothing within his gift that would 
tempt me." 

Within a few weeks, when it was discovered that Johnstone 
had made similar offers to Robert Morris and to Dana of Massa- 
chusetts, Reed brought up the whole subject before Congress, 
which, on the llth of August, passed a resolution reciting all 
the facts, quoting the letters, and after denouncing this at- 
tempt at bribery, declared that no more correspondence or 
intercourse could be held with Johnstone. 

The other commissioners immediately disavowed all knowl- 
edge of Johnstone 's correspondence and Johnstone himself 
replied to the Congress in a letter, declaring that their reso- 
lutions instead of being offensive as intended, were to him a 
mark of distinction. He sneered at the Congress for their 
failure to carry out the terms of Burgoyne's surrender, and 
said that his favorable opinions of America had since the 
French alliance undergone a decided change. At the same time 
he announced that he would no longer act as a peace com- 
missioner, but leave the whole business in the hands of his 
colleagues. He was compelled to this course; for he had be- 
come useless as a member of the commission. 

He hurried back to England in September to resume his 
place in Parliament and give his voice, as he said, against the 
American claims to independency. Hutchinson reports his 
arrival in London on the 26th of October. From having been 
a Whig supporter of the Americans in Parliament, he now 
turned Tory, denounced the patriots and declared that "the 
infernals should be let loose on the colonies." He reaped his 
reward for this change of opinion. The Tories welcomed him 
to their ranks; the Ministry made him a commodore; and he 
was given the command of squadrons and expeditions far be- 
yond his ability to handle with success. 13 

18 " Diary and Letters of Thomas Hutchinson," vol. ii, pp. 219, 220, 
226, 235, 236; W. B. Reed, "Life of Joseph Keed," vol. i, pp. 424, 428; 
Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vii, pp. 156, 157, 224. Eden 
and Carlisle reached England, Hutchinson says, December 22, 



His colleagues, Eden and Carlisle, remained in the country 
until November, diligently publishing arguments and informa- 
tion in favor of their mission, and apparently encouraged by 
the discussion among the patriots to hope for a favorable result. 
The Congress and the patriot party made no attempt to check 
the publication of the peace proposals or the discussion of them; 
and the whole question had a fair chance. 

The act of Parliament creating the commission, provided 
that it should continue in existence until the 1st of June, 1779, 
which would seem to indicate that the Ministry expected the 
commissioners to take abundant time and spare no effort to 
create such divisions and weakness in the patriot party as would 
lead to compromise. The intention apparently was to try the 
effect of keeping before the Americans for a year very liberal 
peace proposals and suggestions of reconciliation in the hope 
that persistence would bring some result. 

But the more the subject was discussed the more the patriot 
party saw the folly of breaking faith with the French nation, 
which had already actively and substantially assisted them. 
Why should they desert this friend, who was interested in 
their independence, and turn to the English, who, though 
liberal now with promises, had, nevertheless, spent the last 
fourteen years in trying to restrict their liberty? If they 
broke faith with Prance would they not forfeit the respect of 
all other nations? 

The commissioners, moreover, had no authority to conclude 
a treaty. They could only negotiate terms and then submit 
the terms to Parliament for acceptance. Parliament could 
accept or reject as it pleased, and, while this long process was 
going on, England would be gaining time and strength. The 
longer the commissioners remained in the country the more 
the suspicion gained ground that England's sole purpose in 
putting forth the very liberal terms of the Conciliatory Acts 
was merely a desperate attempt to excite a separation among 
the states, a break up of their union and a consequent breach 
of their treaty with France. If only one or two states should 
fall away from the French treaty, and negotiate with England, 



a great deal would have been accomplished. In the confusion 
of such a situation the British Ministry could take such advan- 
tage as circumstances might indicate. 

General Howe had returned to England early in the summer 
and neither he nor his brother, the Admiral, took any part in 
the commission, which they perhaps regarded as a mere Tory 
measure. Even after the others had returned to England 
the main idea of their mission was not abandoned, and the 
Ministry kept the trap open all the rest of the war. The 
party led by Richard Henry Lee and Samuel Adams in the 
Congress continued its suspicions of France, and by various 
indirect ways the Ministry sought to encourage this party and 
was ready at any moment to take advantage of any proposal 
that would weaken or break the French alliance. The French 
minister Gerard and his successor Luzerne, residing near the 
Congress at Philadelphia, considered the feeling against their 
nation so strong that they took unusual means to check it, 
and by salaries and gifts procured the assistance of General 
Sullivan, Paine and Dr. Cooper of Boston, to write essays 
and by every other means "inspire sentiments favorable to 

On the 3rd of October when the peace commissioners finally 
decided to return to England they issued a terrible proclama- 
tion which announced that, as the rebels had contumaciously 
refused his Majesty's more than liberal offers of peace, the 
character of the war would now be changed. There would be 
no more olive branch; but devastation, fire, sword and the 
merciless vengeance, which some of the loyalists had already 
called for, would be wreaked upon the rebel country. In the 
early part of the war under Howe, they said, the English army 
went through your country with the greatest forbearance, 
because it was expected that we should soon be sitting once 
more with you under the shade of the same vine. We raised 
no contributions, destroyed no docks* or storehouses, quitted 
Boston and Philadelphia without injury, leaving large stores 
behind. We treated you as children and friends under a 
temporary separation. But now, as you have allied yourself 



with France, our hereditary and bitterest enemy, we shall 
treat you as a foreign enemy; as strangers to our blood; and 
we shall inflict upon you all the severities of war. 

There was, of course, an outburst of Whig eloquence in 
Parliament against the cruelty of this proclamation; the bar- 
barity of devastation and slaughter to be inflicted on English 
people who were to be tortured, killed and robbed in order to 
make them affectionate colonists. The threat of the procla- 
mation, was, however, not an idle one ; and to the extent of their 
now crippled power the Ministry carried it out. The French 
alliance and the retirement of the Howes changed the whole 
situation. The peace commissioners passed from the stage of 
history, but not before Lafayette had sent a challenge to Lord 
Carlisle for a remark his lordship had made that "the perfidy 
of the French nation was too universally acknowledged to 
require any new proof.'' " 

14 Cobbett, " Parliamentary History," vol. 20, pp. 1, 830, 851 ; Gordon, 
"American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, pp. 173-175; "Memoirs of 
Lafayette," London edition, 1788, vol. i, p. 61 ; Writings of Washington, 
Ford edition, vol. 7, p. 207; Pontgibaud, "A French Volunteer in the 
War of Independence," p. 63; "Life of Colonel Hanger," pp. 158-161; 
Jones, "New York in the Revolution," vol. i, p. 159; Durand, "New 
Materials for History of American Revolution," pp. 137, 190, 196, 197, 
205, 206, 215, 216, 223, 226? Annual Register, 1779, chap, ii; Stedman, 
" American War," vol. ii, pp. 49-66. 

The Conciliatory Bills and the efforts of the commissioners are 
said to have increased the number of loyalists. (Documents Relating 
to the Colonial History of New York, vol. viii, pp. 783, 787). 



GENEBAL. HOWE'S successor, Sir Henry Clinton, was about 
forty years old, with less military experience than Howe, but 
of fairly good ability. We have already seen something of 
him in his unsuccessful attempt to take Charleston and in his 
successful capture of the Hudson Highlands. 

About the time that Howe placed the Hessian outpost at 
Trenton in December, 1776, Clinton, it will be remembered, 
with a force of ships and men took possession of Newport, 
Rhode Island* Immediately afterwards he went to England 
full of indignation and anger against Lord George Germain, 
the secretary for the colonies, who had published in a mutilated 
and unfavorable form, a letter of Clinton's describing the at- 
tempt to take Charleston, and the reason for its failure. Ger- 
main had timely notice of Clinton's coming, and not caring 
for either a quarrel or a duel, had one of his retainers wait 
for him at Portsmouth and deliver to him a letter full of 
approval and eulogy of his conduct in America and begging 
him to return there where his great abilities were so sorely 

Clinton, however, was not to be put off in that way; and 
Germain hastily promised him the thanks of both houses of 
Parliament and the Order of the Bath for his valor in the 
conquest of Rhode Island, which was taken without resistance, 
garrisoned, as Judge Jones remarks, by loyalists, Quakers and 
old women. Germain, Jones says, was so anxious to appease 
Clinton, that, the Order of the Bath being full, he used his 
influence to have an additional place constituted in order to 
let in the man he feared. So there was no duel ; Clinton was 



satisfied; and returned to America with his easily won 
knighthood. 1 

But this may not have been the end of the quarrel. Ger- 
main, of course, had no love for the man who had driven him 
to such straits and added to the reputation for cowardice he 
had acquired at the Battle of Minden. As colonial secretary, 
Germain was the executive of the Ministry for carrying on 
the war, prepared the dispatches and instructions and exercised 
not a little influence on decisions. Now that Clinton was in 
full command in America, Germain had it in his power to make 
or mar him; and the final upsetting of Clinton's plans by the 
Ministry may have been caused by Germain's desire for ven- 

In his later years Clinton must have often wished that he 
had refused Germain's glittering bribes, and forced him to 
a duel. If left to himself, Clinton had an honest and firm in- 
tention to save the colonies for the empire in the true Tory 
fashion in which rebellions had been put down in Ireland; and 
he set about it in a way that drove the patriots to desperation 
and for a time promised success. If he had had Howe's large 
army and opportunities he would have undoubtedly altered the 
course of history. With France against him his task was diffi- 
cult and yet he came very near succeeding. 

His first business, under the instructions of the Ministry, 
was to abandon the farce of holding Philadelphia, which had 
never been of much use to the British cause and had now become 
an exceedingly dangerous place, because the powerful French 
fleet under D 'Estaing, which was on its way from Toulon, would 
in all probability block up the Delaware, shutting in Admiral 
Howe's fleet and rendering it useless. The army could then 
no longer remain in Philadelphia because they relied upon 
communication with the sea as their main source of supply; 
and if the army attempted to remain the French might take 
New York, which, was defended by only four thousand men. 

To rescue both the fleet and the army from this impending 

1 Jones, "New York in the Revolution," rol. i, pp. 131, 132. 



disaster in Philadelphia and concentrate them in New York for 
its defence, was Clinton's imperative duty. But, moving an 
army between Philadelphia and New York was no longer the 
child's play such movements had been to Ho'we with his large 
force, and no danger from a French fleet if he went by sea. 

The whole British force had been much reduced since the 
French alliance. There were now only 2000 troops in Rhode 
Island, 4000 in New York and from 8000 to 10,000 in Philadel- 
phia; or, in other words, Clinton had only about half the 
number which the Ministry had given Howe. 

Washington, with his usual advantage of spring recruiting, 
had some 4000 militia at Wilmington and the Hudson High- 
lands; and his force at Valley Forge, which was the one that 
would directly oppose Clinton's Philadelphia army, was about 
11,000. The two armies, American and British, therefore, 
started this new phase of the war about equal in numbers ; but 
with the advantage, of course, in discipline and equipment in 
favor of the British. 2 

The Ministry, apparently, expected that the 10,000 Phila- 
delphia troops would be taken to New York by sea; and Clin- 
ton, at first, had this intention. Subsequently, however, he 
wrote the Ministry that he must go by land, because there 
were not enough transports to receive the whole army at once ; 
and if he were detained by winds, Washington would have a 

9 Stedman, "American War," vol. ii, p. 14; Magazine of American 
History, vol. ii, p. 407; Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vii, 
p. 8 note. There has been some difference of opinion as to the number of 
men Clinton had in Philadelphia. Bancroft says 17,000, Lafayette 14,000 
and Judge Jones 30,000. The last estimate of 30,000 is so extravagant 
that it may be a misprint. Clinton himself said in his MS. notes that 
the Philadelphia army had recently been reduced by 12,000, which would 
have left hardly more than 8,000. Washington, who was vitally interested 
in estimating Clinton's numbers correctly, puts them at between 9000 
and 10,000. Jones, "New York in the Revolution," vol. i, p. 262; 
"Memoirs and Correspondence of Lafayette," vol. i, p. 50; Gordon, 
w American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, p. 133 ; MS. notes to Sted- 
man's st American War," Carter-Brown collection, vol. ii, p. 6. 



chance to attack New York. In after years, in his manuscript 
notes to Stedman's "American War/* Clinton boasted that fay 
going by land he had saved both the army and the fleet; and 
by this he appears to have meant that he saved them from the 
French fleet, which reached the coast only a few days after he 
got into New York. 3 

The marching of his 10,000 men across New Jersey was by 
no means an easy matter now that Washington had 11,000 
with which to oppose him; and his masterly accomplishment 
of the task won him considerable applause in Europe. Even 
in starting he managed to conceal his intentions so well that 
three days before he left Philadelphia, no one in the patriot 
army was sure what he intended to do. Washington thought 
he would cross New Jersey. Some thought that he would attack 
Washington at Valley Forge; others that he would march 
towards Lancaster to draw the patriots into a pitched battle; 
and it was suggested that he might take up a position near 
the head of Chesapeake Bay, have the fleet come round into 
the bay, and by means of the Susquehanna River have com- 
munication with the Western Indians. 

It was also thought that he might occupy the lower part 
of the State of Delaware and extend his position from the 
mouth of Delaware Bay across the peninsula to the Chesapeake. 
He would thus have easy access to the ocean for supplies and 
be in a fertile prosperous country, strongly loyalist. General 
Lee believed that this position would be so strong that the 
British could never be dislodged from it.* 

Washington was so much in doubt that he sent scouts and 
surveyors to explore all these regions and report on the roads 
and strong positions. But Clinton had no purpose, except to 
reach New York; and about three o'clock in the morning of 

8 Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vii, p. 52 note ; Clinton 
MS. notes to Stedman's "American War/* vol. ii, p. 20, in Carter-Brown 
collection at Providence. 

* Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vii, pp. 63 note, 28 note, 
4; J. J. Boudinot, " Life of Boudinot," vol. i, p. 129. 
Vol. 1112 177 


the 18th of June, part of his army inarched down into the 
level neck of land south of Philadelphia, and by ten o'clock 
had crossed over to Gloucester on the Jersey side while the 
rest, consisting of the main body according to Boudinot, 
crossed directly from Philadelphia at Cooper's Ferry. 5 

He was accompanied by a large number of loyalists who 
intended to leave the country ; and three thousand more went 
with General Howe and the Admiral on the fleet which imme- 
diately after the evacuation of the town started down the river. 
Part of the fleet with General Howe on board went to England 
and the rest with the Admiral went to New York to help Clin- 
ton get into the town. 

Clinton's next difficulty would be his long march in hot 
weather through the Jersey sand, with his army and great 
baggage train strung out in a long line offering a tempting op- 
portunity for a flank attack. If he escaped this danger, how 
was he to get his ten thousand men into New York, which was 
surrounded with wide bodies of water? If he went straight 
towards New York, as the Pennsylvania Railroad now goes, 
he might become involved in the Raritan River and its marshes, 
and beyond the Raritan were other rivers and bodies of 
water. "Washington might crowd him into these marshes and, 
summoning militia from all over the country, give him the 
same fate as Burgoyne. He might, perhaps, have had vessels 
from New York meet him at New Brunswick on the Raritau 
River. But the river was narrow, hardly more than a creek, 
and he might be attacked in embarking or suffer great damage 
before the ships could reach wider waters. But, nevertheless, 
it is supposed that when he first set out he intended to try this 
New Brunswick route ; or possibly his movement in that direc- 
tion was a mere feint. 6 

Washington had at first thought of throwing a strong de- 

8 J. J. Boudinot, " Life of Boudinot," vol. i, p. 134. 

'Clinton's notes to Stedman, vol. ii, p. 17; Writings of Washington, 
Ford edition, vol. vii, p. 77 note; Lee, Memoirs, vol. i, p. 57; Stedman, 
" American War/' vol. ii, pp. 16-17. 




tachment into New Jersey in front of the British, so as to make 
their passage through that state difficult and dangerous. But 
he had over 3000 men sick or under inoculation for the small- 
pox who would be left weakly guarded at Valley Forge; and 
a detachment into New Jersey before the British left Philadel- 
phia would encourage them to attack Valley Forge. The dan- 
ger of detachments had recently been exhibited at Barren Hill, 
and at PaoHJ 

After abandoning this plan he "appears to have had no in- 
tention of attacking the enemy on their march. He preferred 
to let them go to New Tork while he took his army to the 
important strategic position in the Hudson Highlands and 
made sure of its defence. But gradually he changed his mind. 
He abandoned Valley Forge and having passed over the Dela- 
ware at his favorite crossing place, CoryelTs Ferry, some miles 
above Trenton, his march inclined towards that of Clinton so 
that the two armies would probably meet. Clinton, observing 
this, is supposed to have changed his plan of going to New 
Brunswick, which had been his first intention, and he now took 
the road which led to Sandy Hook. 8 

His immense baggage train was strung out in a line ten 
or twelve miles long. He had expected to meet with opposition 
in a country with many naturally strong places that could be 
held by the enemy, and he had taken with him an unusually 
large quantity of provisions. No doubt the baggage of the 
loyalists also increased the length of his train. The heat was 
so intense that the heavily clad and heavily loaded regulars 
were sinking from exhaustion, and many of them were found 
dead beside the springs and streams. 

The majority of Washington's officers were opposed to any 
attempt upon the enemy ; but Washington himself was growing 
more and more in favor of it ; and several of his officers, Hamil- 

T Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vii, pp. 24, 28 note, 30, 
40, 41. 

Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vii, pp. 41 note, 77 
note; New York Historical Society Collections, 1872, vol. ii, p. 463. 



ton, Lafayette and Wayne, were eager for a battle, and had 
nothing but words of contempt for the decision of the majority* 
The patriot troops were now the best army Washington had 
thus far commanded. Not only had they been drilled under 
Steuben, but General Greene, who had taken Mifflin's place as 
quartermaster-general, had greatly improved the whole equip- 
ment and organization. Patriot prospects were so bright with 
the French alliance, the obvious weakness of England in. offer- 
ing a compromise and in evacuating Philadelphia, that if 
Clinton could be kept from New York, or even seriously crip- 
pled, the peace commissioners would be compelled to negotiate 
a recognition of absolute independence, instead of a compromise. 
: On the other hand, the present fortunate state of affairs, 
with the alliance of France, the weakness of England, and the 
evacuation of Philadelphia, seemed to the majority of the offi- 
cers a strong argument for letting well enough alone and for 
not putting to the hazard of a single engagement the present 
happy result of three years of war. As matters stood at present, 
there was a good chance for negotiating a compromise which 
might give practical independence. But if an attack on Clinton 
failed the chances would be greatly lessened. Lafayette de- 
scribes Lee as arguing eloquently on this side and convincing 
most of the generals. He would, he said, not only let the 
British alone, but he would build a bridge of gold to encourage 
them to go into New York, because with present peace. pros- 
pects a successful attack could not much improve the situation 
and a failure might spoil everything. 9 

Subsequent events showed that this difference of opinion 
among the officers was quite violent and deep rooted. When 
the army halted at Princeton in New Jersey, Washington again 
put the question to a council of war and the majority answered 
as before that a general engagement was not advisable, but that 

* Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vii, pp. 67 note, 72 note; 
vol. 8, p. 381 note, and "Correspondence of Lafayette," London edition 
of 1837, vol. i, pp. 50, 51; New York Historical Society Collections; Lee, 
Papers, vol. iii, pp. 174, 83. 



a detachment of 1500 should be sent to act as occasion might 
serve on the enemy's flank and rear. Washington immediately 
sent this detachment under command of a Virginia officer, Gen- 
eral Scott. He had already sent Maxwell with 1200 men to 
hang about the enemy and annoy them as much as possible. 10 

The next day, the 25th of June, having advanced to Kings- 
ton, he sent 1000 more men under Wayne to join the others 
who were approaching the enemy, and offered the command of 
the whole of this advance corps to General Lee. Lee de- 
clined it, apparently because he disapproved of fighting any 
sort of engagement, and this detachment seemed more suited 
to a less important officer. The command was then given to 
Lafayette, and with his advance corps near the enemy, the 
main patriot army marched from Kingston on the night of 
the 25th and the next morning were at Cranberry. 

The day was too hot for marching; and word was sent to 
Lafayette to come within nearer supporting distance of the 
main body. On the 27th Clinton, believing he was to be attacked 
in the rear, drew his best troops to that point and placed his 
long baggage train in front in charge of Kayphausen's division. 

Lee, finding that his refusal to take command of the ad- 
vance -corps was unfavorably commented upon and having 
changed his mind on the subject several times, finally asked to 
be reappointed. Lafayette describes himself as consenting to 
this change when Lee pleaded and said, "My fortune and honor 
are in your hands; you are too generous to cause the loss of 
both." Lee was accordingly sent forward with reinforcements 
for the advanced corps and took command of it with Lafayette 
as 'his subordinate. 11 

The British were now strongly encamped near Monmouth 
Court House with their rear half encircled by the American 
advanced corps, and Lee had orders to attack them as soon as 

"Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, pp. 131-134; 
Lafayette, Memoirs, vol i, p. 51; Pennsylvania Magazine of History, rol. 
ii, p, 140. 

u Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vii, pp. 73, 75. 



they began to move the next morning, which was the 28th. 
When morning came Knyphausen started about day-break with 
the heavy baggage train and Clinton followed in the rear about 
8 o'clock, with his picked division of as fine troops as there 
were in the British army. 

Washington's orders to Lee were not in writing, and there 
was afterwards some dispute about them. Some who heard 
the conversations between the two generals said that he was 
instructed to attack and bring on an engagement with the 
enemy in any event. But Lee always insisted that he had been 
given full discretion to attack or not according to circum- 
stances; and the last instructions he received werfc certainly 
to that effect, according to Washington's own statement and 
the sworn testimony of the officer who carried the instructions. 

As soon as Washington heard that Knyphausen had started 
he put his own army in motion and sent word by Colonel 
Meade to Lee that he was coming, and directed Lee to have 
the advance corps disencumber themselves of their knapsacks 
and blankets, and attack Clinton's rear unless some very pow- 
erful circumstance should forbid it. 12 

Lee pressed forward to carry out these orders, but received 
very contradictory reports of the position of the enemy. Some 
told him that the main body had marched and that those who 
remained were only a small covering party. But General 
Dickinson, who had special charge of obtaining information, 
assured him that the main body had not yet marched and that 
if he moved towards them he would be in a perilous situation. 

Nevertheless, he went on and by reconnoitring discovered 
what seemed to be a covering party or rear guard of from 1500 
to 2000 British troops, cavalry and infantry. They might, he 
thought, be cut off if there was sufficient space between them 
and the main body; and Wayne was accordingly ordered to 

32 New York Historical Society Collections, 1873, vol. iii, pp. 7, 8. 
Washington said that his instructions to Lee were to attack "unless 
there should be very powerful reasons to the contrary." (Id., vol. ii, 
p. 443. 



attack this covering party in a moderate manner so as merely 
to halt them, while Lee with the rest of the patriot troops 
passed round to cut off their retreat. 

But as Lee moved towards their rear their numbers seemed 
to increase, and as he was reforming some of his men to meet 
this new condition, General Scott's troops, mistaking some of 
the movements for a retreat, began to fall back, which brought 
on a general retreat of all the patriot force, followed by the 
British. Lee was at first surprised and indignant at this re- 
treat. But on further reflection and becoming convinced by 
what he saw and heard, that the enemy were no longer a mere 
covering party, and were being reinforced by the main body 
of the British army, he accepted the retreat as the best move 
that could be made, and proceeded to conduct it. 

At first he thought of halting and making a stand on the 
edge of a ravine with the village of Freehold as a cover to his 
right flank; but on closer examination he found this position 
would be untenable. He then sent Du Portail to select a posi- 
tion farther in the rear, which was also found untenable, be- 
cause it was commanded by a small hill separated from it by 
a ravine and had in its rear a swamp over which there was only 
one narrow road or causeway. Finally, high ground and a 
strong position were seen on 'the other side of the swamp, and 
to this point Lee was marching his troops to make a stand when 
he was met by Washington with the main army. 

Washington, of course, knew nothing of the circumstances 
at the front. He merely saw a retreat -tind some of the demoral- 
ized stragglers in front of it at a time when he was looking 
forward to an attack and victory. It was evidently one of the 
rare occasions when his passionate nature broke loose. He 
addressed Lee in terms of sharp reprimand. 

"I desire to know, sir, what is the reason whence arises 
this disorder and confusion. " ia 

"New York Historical Society Collections, 1873, vol. iii, pp. 81, 112, 
147, 156, 191. 



Lee defended himself, explained the situation, and the two 
men had an altercation of some length in which there was un- 
doubtedly a great deal of heat and very likely much stronger 
language than has been reported. Washington demanded of 
Lee why he had gone at all on such an expedition unless he 
had intended to go through with it. The commander-in-chief 
was in a towering rage; and we have a humorous description 
of the way in which he relieved his mind. General Scott, who 
prided himself on his own ability in profanity, was asked if 
he had ever heard Washington swear. 

" Yes, once; it was at Monmouth, on a day that would have made 
any man swear. Yes, sir, he swore on that day till the leaves shook on 
the trees, charming, delightfully. Never have I enjoyed such swearing 
before or since. Sir, on that memorable day he swore like an angel from 
Heaven." (Pennsylvania Magazine of History, vol. ii, p. 141 note. See 
also Monmouth Inquirer of Freehold, New Jersey, April 25, 1S78.) 

Washington at once halted the patriot troops and formed 
them for battle, and Lafayette speaks of his superb appearance 
on this occasion. He was always at his best on horseback; and 
now when aroused by disappointment, his outburst at Lee and 
the necessity of saving the day, he seemed as Lafayette said, 
to arrest fortune by a glance. His bearing, courage and de- 
cision were never displayed to such advantage; and " he was 
never greater in battle/' says his admirer, "than in this 

Lee had had at the front about 4000 troops and whether 
his conduct was right or not depends largely on whether the 
British before him were increasing in numbers and their main 
body coming up. Lee's 4000 were certainly equal to attack- 
ing the covering party of 1500 or 2000, but were no match 
for the main body or increasing numbers which, according to 
one witness, amounted to 6000 or 8000 men. Wayne and 
some other officers appear to have thought that there was noth- 
ing to oppose Lee except the small covering party. But the 
British accounts of the battle, afterwards published, show that 
Lee was entirely correct in believing that he was confronted 



by the main body of the enemy and that Dickinson was also 
right in warning Lee that if he advanced he would advance 
into the main body. 

As soon as Clinton had heard of Lee's approach he had 
supposed that it was an attempt on his baggage train. To 
give time to Knyphausen to escape with the baggage, Clinton 
turned all the rest of his force to the rear with the inten- 
tion of attacking Lee with such severity that all the other 
patriot forces would be drawn to Lee's assistance and prevented 
from pursuing the baggage. 14 

In short, an impartial view of all the evidence of the wit- 
nesses at the court-martial afterwards held, together with 
the accounts of the battle given by the British, fail to show 
that Lee was in fault. His retreat seems to have been both 
fortunate and necessary. At the moment when Washington 
met him, he had brought the troops out of a bad strip of 
country about two and a half miles in length, in which all 
the positions were favorable to the British, and he had just 
reached a good position to make a stand. 

After the altercation with him, Washington directed him 
to form the troops on that ground, which both had selected 
as the place to halt; the British came up and there was severe 
fighting, several charges by the British light horse as well as 
the infantry, which were repulsed with heavy loss. Pontgibaud, 
who was present, says that one regiment of the Guards lost 
half its men. Clinton tried to turn the Americaii left and then 
their right, but without success. The discipline of Steuben 
apparently enabled our troops to protect their flanks much bet- 
ter than in the days of Howe. Foiled at every point, and with 
300 of his troops lying dead in the blazing sun, Clinton fell 

"New York Historical Society Collections, 1872, vol. ii, pp. 463, 464; 
Stedman, "American War/* edition 1774, vol. ii, p. 19; New York His- 
torical Society Collections, 1873, vol. iii, pp. 110, 140, 141, 155, 167, 121, 
122, 125, 128, 161, 144, 148, 178, 163; Drake, "Life of General Knox," 
pp. 56-59; Clinton's "Observations on Stedman's History," pp. 5, 6; 
Lee, Memoirs, vol. i, p. 59. 



back to a strong position where his flanks were well protected 
by woods and swamps. 15 

Washington, still hungry for a general engagement, moved 
Tip to attack him but night came on before he could begin. 
Lee had been sent to form the reserve of the army at English- 
town three miles away. Both sides went to rest under arms, 
Washington and Lafayette lying down on the same cloak at 
the foot of a tree, and discussing the conduct of Lee. 

They would probably have begun another action the next 
day; but at midnight Clinton withdrew his whole army some- 
what as Washington had done at Trenton, and marching in the 
cool darkness had joined Knyphausen and the baggage and 
was far beyond pursuit when the hot daylight arrived. The 
village of Monmouth, says Pontgibaud, presented a pitiable 
sight when the patriots entered and found the wounded which 
the British had left behind, five young officers of the guard 
regiment that had been cut to pieces, their legs and arms ampu- 
tated, and their colonel, one of the handsomest men Pontgi- 
baud had ever seen, slowly dying in the greatest agony. 

As in many other battles of the Revolution, there is great 
disagreement as to the losses on each side. Washington esti- 
mated from the number of British dead his men buried, that 
Clinton's loss must have been about 300 killed, possibly a 
thousand wounded, only a few taken prisoners, but hundreds 
deserted. His own loss was, he said, the very slight one of 
60 killed, 132 wounded, and 130 missing. But Clinton reported 
the British loss as only 124 killed, of whom 59 had died of the 
heat, 170 wounded, and 64 missing. The American loss, he 
said, was supposed to have been greater than his own, espe- 
cially in killed. 16 

15 Pontgibaud, "A French Volunteer of the War of Independence," 
p. 56; Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, pp. 131-151; 
Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vii, pp. 80, 88, 89, 81, 94, 96 
note; Lee's Court Martial in vol. iii of New York Historical Society 
Collections, 1873; Stedman, "American War," vol. ii, pp. 19-24. 

"Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vii, pp. 91, 94; New 
York Historical Society Collections, 1872, vol. ii, pp. 447, 465, 467; Sted- 
man, " American War," edition 1794, vol. ii, p. 21. 



After leaving the scene of the battle, Clinton got into New 
York in a most skilful way. Keeping clear of the Raritan 
River and its marshes, he went out on Sandy Hook where he 
had arranged, it seems, that the fleet coming from Philadelphia 
should meet him and transport his army into New York. 

In spite of the delays of calm weather in going down the 
Delaware, the fleet anchored off Sandy Hook on the 29th of 
June, and the next day Clinton and his army were there. The 
heavy baggage and artillery were at once put on the fleet ; and 
as the weather permitted the army was gradually transferred 
to the ships. On the 6th of July they were all safe in New 
York. 17 

Three days afterward, on the 9th, the French fleet, after a 
long voyage, was at the mouth of Delaware Bay and on the llth 
they reached Sandy Hook, whence Clinton on the 6th had 
escaped to New York. There was, therefore, a margin of only 
five days by which Clinton's army and possibly the British fleet 
had escaped a heavy disaster if not total destruction. The 
French fleet was superior in size of ships and number of guns. 
They had twelve great ships of the line, one of 90 guns, one of 
80 and six of 74, besides several large frigates and 4000 land 
forces. Admiral Howe's largest ships were of 64 guns and the 
rest of 40 and 50. 

If D'Estaing had reached the mouth of the Delaware before 
the British fleet got out, he could have locked it in there; or 
if he had met it on the ocean he might have delayed or scat- 
tered it; and in either of these events it could not have gone 
to the assistance of Clinton. If D'Estaing had come upon it 
anchored at Sandy Hook, he might have easily prevented it 
embarking the troops for New York and might have inflicted 
a severe loss. 

Clinton's army of less than 10,000 men might, in any of 

17 Gordon, "American Revolution/' edition 1788, vol. iii, p. 154; 
Jones, " New York in the Revolution," vol. i, pp. 264, 273, 274 j Writings 
of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vii, p. 97 note; Lee, Memoirs, vol. i, 
p. 64. 



these ways, have been isolated in New Jersey, unable to reach 
New York and unable to return to Philadelphia. He had al- 
ready lost, it is supposed, 1500 men by desertion, heat and the 
Battle of Monmouth, and he would soon have been surrounded 
by patriot continentals and militia and compelled to surrender 
like Burgoyne. "Washington believed that both army and fleet 
would have fallen and that such a great stroke would have 
ruined Great Britain. 

It was a most critical occasion. A little good luck for the 
patriots, a little delay of Clinton, or a little more speed in 
D'Estaing's fleet, might have made the French alliance over- 
whelmingly effective, thrown the Tory Ministry out of power 
and brought in a liberal Ministry which would have quickly 
recognized the independence of the United States. But as it 
happened, the war was prolonged for three years more and 
came very near ending in favor of Great Britain. 

Clinton 's praises were sung in England and Europe. His 
retreat from Philadelphia with his ten thousand was compared 
to the retreat of Xenophon and his ten thousand Greeks from 
Babylon to the sea. The Raritan was the Euphrates and the 
sand hills of Jersey were the mountains of Carduehi. 18 

"Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vii, pp, 107, 160; 
" Thoughts on the Present War," etc., London, 1783; Magazine of Ameri- 
can History, vol. ii, p. 407 ; vol. iii, p. 355 ; Stedman, " American War," 
vol. ii, p. 26; "Operations of the French Fleet under Count de Grasse," 
pp. 16, 182 note; Johnson, "Life of General Greene," vol. i, p. 103. 



WASHINGTON and the Congress regarded Monmouth as a 
great patriot victory; and it certainly was one if judged by 
their estimate of the small number of killed and wounded on 
the American side compared with the heavy British loss. 
Clinton and the English, however, regarded it as a British vic- 
tory. They had foiled Washington, they said, in his attempts on 
their baggage train and foiled him in his attempt to prevent 
them getting into New York. But the battle accomplished lit- 
tle or nothing of importance for either side except to depress 
more than ever the cabal against Washington. Judged from 
a modern standpoint ^Monmouth was a very indecisive action. 

It is highly probable that no further difficulty over Lee's 
conduct would have arisen if he had kept silent and let the 
matter drop. By leaving him to form the troops on the new 
ground selected, Washington is supposed to have shown that 
he intended to make no further complaint. But Lee was stung 
by the language that had been used and very soon wrote to 
Washington an injudicious letter. The letter complained that 
he had been charged with disobedience of orders or want of 
conduct or courage. It was, he said, a cruel injustice. 

"And I ihink, sir, I have a right to demand some reparation for 
the injury committed, and unless I can obtain it I must in justice to 
myself, when this campaign is closed (which I believe will close the war), 
retire from a service at the head of which is placed a man capable of 
offering such injuries; but at the same time, in justice to you, I must 
repeat, that I from my soul believe that it was not a motion of your 
own breast, but instigated by some of those dirty earwigs who will 
forever insinuate themselves near persons high in office; for I really am 
convinced that when General Washington acts for himself no man in 
his army will have reason to complain of injustice or indecorum." (New 
York Historical Society Collections, 1873, vol. iii, p. 99.) 

Up to the time of sending this letter Lee seems to have 



committed no serious fault. But the letter was too disrespect- 
ful to the Commander-in-chief to be overlooked. Several offi- 
cers, notably Wayne and Scott, had been urging Washington 
to bring Lee to trial for misconduct in not attacking the Brit- 
ish covering party, which, in their opinion, was at the most only 
two thousand and not supported by the main army. Hamilton 
was also strongly opposed to Lee, calling him a " driveler 
in the business of soldiership or something much worse," and 
describing his conduct in the battle as childish, monstrous and 
unpardonable. 1 Washington was obliged to appoint a court- 
martial. In fact Lee requested it in his letters; and three 
charges were preferred: 

I. Disobedience of orders in not attacking the enemy on 
the 28th of June, agreeable to repeated instructions. 

II. Misbehaviour before the enemy on the same day by 
making an unnecessary, disorderly and shameful retreat. 

III. Disrespect to the commander-in-chief in two letters 
dated the 28th of June and the 1st of July. 

Gordon, whose statements as a contemporary are certainly 
entitled to weight, says that many were of the opinion that 
Lee should have been found guilty only on the last charge of 
disrespect to the commander-in-chief, and Jared Sparks in his 
"Life of Lee," after carefully examining all the evidence 
taken by the court-martial, is of the same opinion. 

The second charge of an unnecessary, disorderly and shame- 
ful retreat is not supported by the evidence taken at the 
trial. There may have been some disorder here and there 
caused partly by the heat of the weather. But a large pro- 
portion of the officers who were examined denied that there 
was general disorder. The charge of disobedience of orders 
was also unsupported by the evidence, because it was shown 
that the last instructions to Lee left him at liberty to use 
his discretion. The court-martial, however, found Lee guilty 
on all the charges, merely softening their finding on the see- 

1 New York Historical Society Collections, 1872, vol. ii, pp. 438-440, 



ond by saying that the retreat was disorderly in only some 
few instances. 

According to Gordon there were people who believed that 
the court regarded the two letters to Washington as so grossly 
insubordinate and disrespectful, that they found Lee guilty 
on the other two charges because of the greatness of his offence 
in the last one. The sentence of the court that he be sus- 
pended from command for a year was supposed also to indi- 
cate that the court were inclined to think him innocent on the 
first two charges ; for, as both Harry Lee and Gordon pointed 
out, if he had really been guilty of disobedience and an unneces- 
sary and shameful retreat on such an occasion, a year's suspen- 
sion was a very trifling punishment. 

The finding of the court-martial was sent to the Congress 
to be confirmed; and here Lee had another chance; for he had 
many friends in that body. The subject was much debated; 
and Paca of Maryland urged that each charge brought against 
Lee should be considered separately. If this had been done 
it is not unlikely that the Congress would have confirmed only 
that part of the court's decree which found Lee guilty of dis- 
respect to Washington. But Lee spoiled all his chances by 
going to Philadelphia, writing and talking too much and too 
cleverly, and abusing Washington. Reed reminded him that 
he was putting it out of the power of his friends in the Con- 
gress to help him; and Lee replied that nothing would stop 
him from exposing the wickedness of his persecutors, that he 
would not beg for friends, all he wanted was common justice. 
In short, his indiscretion seems to have put the Congress in 
such a position that a vote to help him would have been a 
vote of want of confidence in Washington. The party that 
had wanted to displace Washington a few months before was 
still of some strength in the Congress and the majority would 
not do such a foolish thing as to play into their hands. They 
therefore confirmed the whole decision of the court-martial. 2 

'New York Historical Society Collections, 1872, vol. ii, pp. 475, 480; 
vol. iv, 1874, pp. 152, 153, 313-317; Henry Lee, Memoirs, vol. i, p. 63; 
Gordon, " American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, pp. 151-154. 



For alleged abusive language of the Commander-in-chief, 
Lee was challenged by Washington's aide, Colonel John 
Laurens, and they fought a duel on the old Point No Point 
road north of Philadelphia. They fixed at six paces and Lee 
was slightly wounded in the side. He was willing to fire again, 
but his second, Major Edwards, and Hamilton, who was second 
for Laurens, decided that the affair should go no further. Lee, 
in the customary duelling tone of the time, spoke highly of his 
antagonist. "The young fellow behaved splendidly, " he said. 
"I could have hugged him/' 3 

Both Wayne and Baron Steuben wrote letters, which were 
in effect challenges to Lee for comments he had made on their 
evidence before the court-martial; but these disputes were 
satisfactorily settled without duels. Lee, in his turn, challenged 
a member of Congress, William Henry Drayton, of South 
Carolina, who had been particularly active in procuring 
confirmation of the whole decision of the court-martial, and 
had also, in a charge to a grand jury in South Carolina, 
accused Lee of military treason in not joining Washington in 
the retreat across New Jersey in 1776. The correspondence 
between the two men, both trained masters of invective, is most 
amusing for its poignancy and vituperation. But Drayton 
declined the challenge because he did not consider himself 
accountable to an officer of the army for language used as a 
judge and as a member of the Congress. 4 

Lafayette in his memoirs says that if Lee had ever suc- 
ceeded Washington in the command, he would have turned 
over everything to the British. But he does not suggest that 
Lee had any treacherous design in retreating at Monmouth. 5 
Hamilton, however, in a eulogy on Greene, delivered in 1789, 
referred quite pointedly to a sinister motive for Lee's conduct 
at Monmouth. 

8 New York Historical Society Collections, 1873, vol. iii, pp. 283-285. 
* Id., vol. iv, pp. 152-157, 318, 321, 331. 

5 " Memoirs and Correspondence of Lafayette/' London edition, 1837, 
vol. i, p. 38. 



" There let me recall to your indignant view, the flower of the 
American infantry flying before an enemy that scarcely dared to pursue 
vanquished without a blow-l-vanquishe'd by their obedience to the com- 
mands of a leader who meditated their disgrace." ( Hamilton's Works, 
Lodge edition, vol. 7, p. 29.) 

Colonel Laurens, who fought the duel with Lee, also sus- 
pected him of some treachery at Monmouth. Laurens was no 
doubt influenced in this opinion by his friend Hamilton, and 
in his turn influenced his father, President Laurens of the 
Congress, who in an obscure letter seems to say that the 
remarks of his son remind him of other circumstances tending 
to prove Lee's treachery. Hamilton seems to have been the 
principal source of all these suspicions, and he persuaded Elias 
Boudinot to believe in them. 6 

Hamilton's accusation has been accepted and enlarged upon 
in modern times by at least one historian, especially since the 
discovery of Lee's plan for conquering America, which, while 
a prisoner, he is supposed to have submitted to General Howe. 
By bringing on a defeat of the patriot army at Monmouth he 
intended, it is said, to show the correctness of the opinion he 
had given in the council of war against making the attack. 
Washington would then be displaced for ordering such an ill- 
advised attack, Lee would succeed him, and as head of the 
army might play a part like that of General Monk at the 
time of the Restoration. He could suggest a compromise peace 
on the basis of the recent British proposals, and if it succeeded, 
he might expect a high reward from the British Government. 7 

It must be confessed, however, that this suggestion seems 
rather fanciful, and far fetched. If Lee really thought that 
he could displace "Washington, by himself incurring a disas- 
trous defeat, he had less sense than has been generally sup- 
posed. The suspicion against him is supported by no evidence, 
fact or circumstance that can be collected from the court-mar- 
tial proceedings, or any other record of the time. Hamilton 

New York Historical Society Collections, 1872, vol. ii, pp. 472, 474. 
T Fiske, " American Revolution/' 1st edition, vol. ii, pp. 69, 70. 
Vol. II- 13 193 


and Laurens never put forth their opinions as anything more 
than 'suspicions and produced no facts in support of them. 
It is true that Lee's character was, in many respects, a con- 
temptible one, and that his conduct when a prisoner was of 
a very treacherous complexion ; but from that we cannot infer 
that he contemplated treachery at Monmouth unless there are 
some positive facts tending to show it. 

His career, however, was now ended. He retired to Vir- 
ginia and lived in the Shenandoah Valley on a large estate, 
called by him Prato Rio, which he had bought with the money 
the Congress had voted him as a compensation for his property 
confiscated in England. At Prato Eio he bred horses, enjoyed 
the company of his dogs, and attempted farming, for which 
he was quite unfit. We have no means of knowing the effect 
upon the dogs of association with such a man. But Lee never 
learned from them certain straightforward qualities which 
some dogs could have taught him. He collected the volumes of 
his favorite authors in a great barn of a house, consisting of 
one large room with" the kitchen in one corner, his bed in 
another, the books in a third and saddles and harness in a 

" Sir," he said, with his unfailing humor to a visitor, " it is the most 
convenient and economical establishment in the world. The lines of 
chalk which you see on the floor, mark the divisions of the apartments, 
and I can sit in any corner, and give orders, and overlook the whole 
without moving my chair." (New York Historical Society Collections, 
1874, vol. iv, p. 322.) 

He wrote anonymous newspaper articles against Washing- 
ton, sarcastic, foolish pieces, ruining his own reputation and 
doing Washington no harm. There seems to be no question that 
he always entertained a petty jealousy of the commander-in- 
chief, and a desire to supplant him. In this respect he exactly 
resembled Gates, who was also an Englishman of the British 
regular army who had joined our service. The narrowness of 
these two men is in striking contrast to the broadness of other 
officers like Greene, Lafayette or Wayne, better soldiers than 
Lee or Gates, with more reason for desiring the highest 



command, but in whose careers it is impossible to find the slight- 
est disloyalty to their chief. 

When the term of Lee's suspension had expired, he heard 
a rumor that the Congress intended to dismiss him for the 
sake of economy in the service. He wrote them a most impu- 
dent letter, which he afterwards regretted; but after receiving 
the letter, they could do nothing but expel him from the army. 

After a few years he left Prato Eio to visit Baltimore and 
Philadelphia, and died in an inn at the latter place in the 
autumn of 1782. The Philadelphians gave him a magnificent 
funeral attended by a great concourse of people, the clergy of 
all denominations, the President of the Congress, the officials 
of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the French ambassador, 
with other prominent and distinguished persons, and they 
buried him in the yard of old Christ Church ; for opinion had 
not then set so strongly against him as it has in modern 
times. 8 

The defects of his character may have partly arisen from 
the impossibility of his position. He was like some of the loyal- 
ists, neither an American nor an Englishman. He had left 
the English army largely from spite because he was not pro- 
moted. He had little confidence in American troops; and 
always retained his insular awe of the British regular. His 
last words in his delirium were, "Stand by me, my brave grena- 
diers ! ' * Although he was among the first openly to recommend 
a declaration of independence he afterwards receded from that 
position as the contest progressed, and favored a compromise 
which would in some vague way keep America within the great 
British fetichr-the empire. While he may have been sincere 
in his professions as an English Whig, he never could entirely 
conceal his contempt for what he considered the vulgarity of 
American republicanism. Like the loyalists he could see no 
rewards or life outside of the empire ; and it is not improbable 
that he looked forward to a possibility of being received back 
in England with distinction. His plan of conquest submitted 

New York Historical Society Collections, .1874, vol. iv, p. 161. 



to Howe, and Ms secret letter to Burgoyne may have been the 
petty methods of a petty mind to secure an end which Arnold, 
cast in larger mold, strove to accomplish by one bold stroke. 

Holding himself in a position which heartily favored neither 
side, his actions naturally became inconsistent or contemptible. 
That we should have accepted and used a creature in some 
respects more contemptible than Arnold, may have been un- 
fortunate; but we were in a struggle for national existence; 
and it cannot be denied that his services were valuable. Lafay- 
ette, who had a great dislike for him, always believed that his 
advice had saved the army at the time of the retreat from 
Harlem Heights to White Plains. Washington thought highly 
of him; labored earnestly to secure his exchange when he 
was a prisoner; and in the spring of 1778, only two or three 
months before the Battle of Monmouth, he was so anxious for 
Lee's speedy return that he instructed Boudinot to strive to 
effect the exchange by every means in his power; "for he was 
never more needed than at the present moment." 

In a letter written about the same time, he said, "I wish 
most heartily for the aid of General Lee in council and upon 
every other occasion." When at last it was announced in the 
early part of May that Howe would release Lee in Philadel- 
phia and send him to Valley Forge, great preparations were 
made in the camp to receive him. The officers, drawn up in 
two lines, advanced two miles on the road. Washington and 
his staff rode out two miles farther and waited for him. When 
he appeared Washington dismounted to receive him and at 
the camp he was entertained by a dinner and a band of music. 

It is impossible to suppose that Washington was not as well 
aware of Lee's failings as were other people of that time; but 
he seems to have found him useful; and no doubt Lee's knowl- 
edge of European military theories and details, and his facil- 
ity in suggestion and arguments, were of great value in the 
patriot camp. In spite of his quarrel with him at Monmouth, 
Washington in writing of his death to his sister, describes 
him as a man "who possessed many great qualities." 

Some of the best patriot officers remained friendly with 



Lee to the last. Knox testified strongly in his favor at the 
court-martial. Greene believed that great injustice was done 
him; and Harry Lee declared his conduct at the battle was 
highly creditable and the sentence of the court-martial an 
absurdity. "With Wayne, who testified against him and chal- 
lenged him to a duel, he afterwards exchanged friendly letters ; 
and it appears that he never lost the good will of Samuel 
Adams, Robert Morris, Sehuyler, Sullivan and Lincoln. 9 

9 New York Historical Society Collections, 1874, vol. iv, pp. 1, 8, 17, 
18, 35, 37, 333; vol. iii, pp. 356, 375, 379; Boudinot's Journal, pp. 77, 78; 
Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, p. 501 ; J. J. Boudinot, 
" Life of Boudinot," yoL i, p. 144, 



WHEN Washington started to pursue Clinton across New 
Jersey he, of course, arranged for the immediate occupation 
of Philadelphia by a small patriot force. If for no other 
reason, such an occupation was necessary in order to preserve 
order; for the town would be without a government of any 
sort when the British army withdrew. 

Allen MeLane, with his rough riders who had been seizing 
the loyalist market wagons all winter, was the first to enter 
the town. He rode in by Second Street, turned up Chestnut 
and took prisoner Captain Sandford, who had incautiously 
remained among the stragglers of the British army. The city 
had a looted, dirty appearance, with garden fences torn down 
for firewood, and empty, dismantled houses. The enemy had 
professed to abstain from serious destruction, and yet the 
damage to private property was very great. In the suburbs, 
more than five and twenty country seats had been burnt; and 
in the town the damage was estimated at over $1,000,000, 
which was a heavy loss in a small community. 1 

Over this dilapidated town, demoralized by the occupation 
of a hostile army, full of loyalists assuming airs of contempt 
for rebels and patriots longing to be revenged on loyalists, 
General Arnold was placed in command. One cannot help 
thinking that he would have been better employed with Wash- 
ington in New Jersey at the Battle of Monmouth, where his 
dash and heroism might have given us better history to write. 
His command at Philadelphia at once brought out the evil side 

1 W. B. Reed, " Life of Joseph Reed," yol. ii, p. 33 ; newspaper edition 
of Westcott's " History of Philadelphia," in Historical Society of Pennsyl- 
vania, chap. 262. 



of his character. Instead of mollifying political resentments 
or taking the patriot side, he increased the bickering and quar- 
relling. He associated with the loyalists, and married one of 
them, Miss Peggy Shippen, who had figured in the Misehianza. 
He was rapidly becoming a full-fledged loyalist. He was inso- 
lent and overbearing to patriots, indulged in reckless specula- 
tion, became over-eager for wealth, and was crazed by the social 
prominence which a certain set of loyalists affected, and which 
led them to run after everything English. 

In the confused condition of affairs during that summer of 
1778, the patriots were, of course, in control of the city gov- 
ernment and they proceeded to revenge themselves on the 
loyalists in exactly the way Galloway and his friends had ex- 
pected when they applied to General Howe for advice. Among 
the 3000 who wisely went away with Howe, were apparently 
all the most important people who had taken an active part in 
assisting the British to govern Philadelphia. If they had re- 
mained there would surely have been some terrible scenes to 

The patriots, however, found forty-five obscure persons who 
having performed very minor duties under the British had be- 
lieved themselves safe in remaining. These were all indicted 
for high treason against the patriot government of Pennsyl- 
vania. Twelve of the indictments were thrown out by the 
grand jury and the remaining twenty-three were tried, but 
all acquitted except Roberts and Carlisle. 

Roberts had been active, like thousands of others, in assist- 
ing the British; he sold them provisions and helped to enlist 
recruits. Poor Carlisle had occupied no higher position than 
keeping one of the city gates and issuing passes. Both of them 
were Quakers, which may have helped to secure their 

Inasmuch, however, as Galloway and all the really impor- 
tant loyalists had escaped, and as the other twenty-one who 
were tried had been acquitted, it seemed inhuman and cruel 
to hang these two unfortunates, who had served in such very 
small capacities, who had done nothing more than thousands 



of loyalists in other places had done and were doing, and who 
in what they had done had the excuse that they were in a 
town completely occupied by the British and in which, while 
they remained, they had a moral right to follow some occu- 

Thousands of people, patriots as well as loyalists, took this 
view of the question, and the executive council of the new gov- 
ernment of Pennsylvania was flooded with petitions asking 
that both Carlisle and Roberts be pardoned. But the council 
and the patriot officials in power were inexorable, and pro- 
ceeded to carry out the sentence of the court in a way which 
is much to be regretted and reminds one too much of the 
French revolution. The two victims were led through the 
streets each with a rope round his neck, tied to the tail of a 
cart in which was his coffin, and large crowds attended their 

The episode reveals to us the passion and heat of the time. 
At the very time that people were pleading for mercy to 
Roberts and Carlisle, the loyalists of New York had joined 
themselves with Indians and committed a horrible massacre of 
men, women and children in the Wyoming Valley of Pennsyl- 
vania, and Clinton had raided New Bedford in Massachusetts. 
The majority of the patriot party were clamoring for ven- 
geance. The important loyalists had escaped; but there must 
be victims of some sort, no matter how insignificant and pitiful. 2 

The treaty of alliance with France produced no favorable 
results that summer and autumn, but on the contrary, the 
trend of events began to set strongly against the patriots. In 
July, soon after the arrival of the peace commissioners, but 
long before they had announced that the character of the war 
would be changed, an event occurred which in its merciless 
severity was exactly in line with the change which they finally 

* Newspaper edition of Westcott's " History of Philadelphia," chap. 
264; Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, p. 190 5 W. B. 
Reed, "Life of Joseph Reed/' vol. ii, p. 30; Jones, "New York in the 
Revolution," vol. i, p. 282; New York Historical Society Collections, 
1873, rol. iii, pp. 248, 250, 252. 



proclaimed. It was an expedition wliicli originated not with 
the British Government, but among the loyalists of the Mohawk 
Valley in New York and the Six Nations of Indians, that lived 
near by. 

It has already been intimated that these loyalists were 
powerful and more or less united; they had strong affiliations 
with the Indians through the memory of Sir William Johnson, 
that romantic character who for many years had lived among 
the Indians like a baron of the Middle Ages, controlled them 
by force of character and sympathy with their wild life, and 
represented the British Government. His career and work 
had been continued by his son-in-law, Guy Johnson, and his 
son, Sir John Johnson. 

The Indians, while remaining somewhat neutral, were 
always inclined to take the loyalist side, because they believed 
that Great Britain would win in the end. General Schuyler 
was credited with having kept these loyalists and Indians under 
control during the first three years of the war. He made a raid 
in 1775 with some 4000 patriot militia upon Sir John Johnson's 
baronial establishment, killed his peacocks, broke up the charm- 
ing and interesting surroundings of his wilderness hall, and 
disarming and imprisoning a number of Scotch settlers, who 
were strongly loyalist, gave a very decided blow to loyalism 
in that region. 3 

His men, in returning, decorated themselves with the 
feathers of the peacocks; the raid was always known among 
loyalists as Schuyler 's peacock expedition; and his enemies 
were fond of remarking that these feathers were the only 
laurels he ever won in anything approaching actual warfare. 

Sir John Johnson soon afterwards abandoned New York 
and went to Canada, followed by many of the Indians, whose 
descendants live there to this day. His wife, who was a woman 
of much attractiveness and intelligence, was seized and held 

"For a description of this raid and a most sympathetic account of 
the Johnsons, see Jones's " New York in the devolution," title " Johnson/' 
in index. 



as a hostage, when her husband left the country. True to the 
romantic habits of the family, she managed to elude her guards 
and started on an adventurous sleigh ride through the State of 
New York. She was recognized by a patriot, who, apparently 
appreciating her courage and character, allowed her to pass, 
and she reached the British lines. 

In addition to the depressing effects on the loyalists of 
his peacock expedition, Schuyler was afterwards able to exer- 
cise considerable control of the Six Nations of Indians by 
means of negotiation, ''peace talks," and all the influence with 
which he and his family were familiar from their long experi- 
ence in that region. But early in 1778 the loyalists and Indians 
appear to have emancipated themselves from this restraint; 
and in February Schuyler wrote Congress that there was evi- 
dence of the Indians preparing for an attack upon the New 
York, Pennsylvania and Virginia frontiers. The Congress 
did nothing and soon loyalists and Indians were sufficiently 
organized to strike a heavy blow of the kind that the loyal- 
ists had always recommended; for, as we have already ob- 
served, they believed that the war should have been conducted 
from the beginning with the utmost severity. 4 

Accordingly, in July, 1778, there was a terrible raid of 
loyalists and Indians in the Wyoming Valley of Northern 
Pennsylvania. There was an heroic resistance by a handful 
of old men and boys, but it was quickly overcome, the resisting 
settlers were pursued and butchered without mercy, the fort 
set on fire, the prisoners thrown into the flames and held down 
with pitchforks, or arranged in a circle and slaughtered by 
the tomahawk of the Indian Queen Esther. 

When night came fires were kindled arid the remaining 
prisoners chased, naked, back and forth through the flames 
until they fell exhausted and were consumed. Many of the 
women and children who tried to escape eastward to the Hud- 
son River perished in the forests and swamps, and the invad- 
ing force went through the neighboring country burning every 

* Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, pp. 184-191. 



house, and shooting and scalping every human being that eould 
be found. They accomplished, in short, that complete devas- 
tation which the British in former years had used for breaking 
the independent spirit of Ireland, and which the loyalists had 
been calling for as the only method that would save the Ameri- 
can colonies for the British empire. 

Such use of the Indians was assailed by Burke and other 
Whigs as barbarous and inhuman and defended by Tories and 
loyalists on the familiar ground of necessity, and as being in 
the end no more cruel than other warfare. All real war was, 
they said, devastation and destruction, and the severest and 
most terrifying methods were in the end the most merciful, 
because they brought hostilities more rapidly to an end. Ex- 
cept for mere appearances, it was said, there was no essential 
difference between the tomahawk and scalping knife of the 
Indian and the musket and bayonet of the British regular. 5 

The patriot leaders, who had dreaded the effect of Carle- 
ton's kindness and generosity to prisoners and who had feared 
that their followers would grow lukewarm for want of British 
atrocities under Howe, had now enough and to spare. There 
was another raid into Cherry Valley in New York; men, 
women, and children were slaughtered, and the settlement 
wiped out of existence. The whole northern frontier was for 
months deluged in blood and murders, which were not checked 
until, in the following year, 1779, Washington sent Sullivan 
with a force of 3000 troops, which broke forever the power of 
the Six Nations and loyalists in central New York. 6 

Besides the attack on Wyoming, the Indians in the far west 
in the Ohio Valley and down even into the Valley of the Mis- 
sissippi, were being organized by the Canadian Government to 
prey upon the frontiers of the southern states and receive 

8 " An Impartial Sketch of the Various Indulgences Granted by Great 
Britain," &c., pp. 35-40, London, 1778. 

Massachusetts Historical Society Proceedings, 1882-1883, vol. 20, 
p. 91; Miner, "History of Wyoming;" Niles, "Principles and Acts of 
the Revolution," edition 1776, p. 403; Van Tyne, " Loyalists," pp. 
165, 167. 


rewards for scalps. The old outposts Detroit and Michili- 
maekinac, of which so much was heard in the French and 
Indian wars and Pontiac's conspiracy, were still held by the 
British, and also Vincennes and Kaskaskia to the southward, 
near the confluence of the Ohio and the Mississippi, in what 
was known as the Illinois country. These forts were to be 
used as centres from which to encourage an Indian invasion 
like that which Lord Dunmore had hoped to accomplish. The 
southern states had already felt the first effects of these plans, 
when an expedition was organized in Virginia and put in com- 
mand of Colonel George Eogers Clark. In June, 1778, with 
some 200 men, he undertook the journey of 1200 miles to Kas- 
kaskia, which was on the east bank of the Mississippi between 
the mouth of the Ohio and St. Louis, then a Spanish post for 
the territory west of the great river. 

They went out to the Monongahela River in Pennsylvania, 
where they procured boats and floated down to the Ohio, which 
they followed to within sixty miles of the point where it flows 
into the Mississippi. There they hid their boats and hurried 
northward on foot; but their provisions were soon exhausted, 
and when they came near Kaskaskia at midnight, they had 
marched for two days without eating. In desperate straits, 
unable to turn back, they attacked the town of about 250 houses 
in the darkness and accomplished a very complete surprise. 
Though quite well fortified, the English had supposed that their 
great distance in the wilderness rendered them perfectly se- 
cure. The governor, Philip Rochblave, was taken with all 
his documents and instructions from Canada to incite the 

The scattered inhabitants of the region being largely 
French, willingly submitted. Cahokia on the east bank of the 
Mississippi almost opposite St Louis and several other villages 
yielded, and finally the important post of Vincennes on the 
Wabash, east of Kaskaskia. Vincennes was shortly afterwards 
retaken by the British commandant at Detroit, Colonel Hamil- 
ton, who immediately laid extensive plans for driving the 
Americans out of the Illinois country and carrying out the 



original purpose of making that whole region a source and 
stronghold for Indian invasion of the rebellious colonies. He 
felt secure for the winter because of the distance of Clark and 
the severity of the weather. Clark would probably have been 
driven out in the spring because his men were few and the 
French, believing him already conquered, were turning against 
him. But he started in mid-winter, and by a march of the 
utmost exposure and hardship, wading across leagues of the 
over-flowed bottom-lands of the Wabash, he reached Tin- 
cennes and took it on the 23rd of February, 1779. This gave 
the Americans actual occupation of the Illinois country for 
the rest of the war, and was an important reason for securing 
that region to the United States in the final treaty of peace 
in 1783. 7 

T "The Conquest of the North West/' vol. i, chaps. 6-11; Gordon, 
" American Revolution/' edition 1788, vol. iii, p. 191. 



WHEN Clinton escaped into New York, Washington took 
his army by leisurely marches to the Hudson River, crossed 
it and encamped at White Plains so as to threaten New York 
as much as possible and be near the strategical stronghold of 
the Hudson Highlands. 

Ever since spring the utmost efforts had been put forth 
to make that important strategical position as impregnable 
as possible. Under instructions from the Congress, General 
Gates had been directed to provide galleys, gunboats, fire- 
rafts, chains, caissons, chevaux de frise and every imagin- 
able device to replace the obstructions to navigation which 
Clinton had removed when he went up the Hudson to help 
Burgoyne. Heretofore the main protection of the Highlands 
had been Fort Montgomery and the ease with which Clinton 
had taken it seemed to indicate a defect in the method of 
defence. 1 

The plans were accordingly changed and West Point se- 
lected as the main reliance and centre for all the obstructions, 
fortifications and outposts. Most elaborate defences were con- 
structed and no effort or expense spared to hold this part of 
the Hudson and keep open the communication between New 
England and the states to the south. 

For the remaining three years of the war, Washington and 
his army always remained in the neighborhood of this strong- 
hold. They usually occupied a semicircle from White Plains 

x Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, p. 77; 
Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vi, pp. 234-236, 294 note, 490 
note, 495. 



on the east side of the Hudson to Morristown in New Jersey 
on the west side. The maintaining of this position \vas all 
the patriots could do against the new strategy of the Ministry 
and Clinton. No more pitched battles were fought in the 
North. Washington never met Clinton in the field. The two 
commanders, one impregnably intrenched in the Highlands 
and the other impregnably intrenched in the town of New 
York, simply watched each other from July, 1778, until Sep- 
tember, 1781, when Washington made his sudden move to 
Yorktown, Virginia. 

During that time Clinton confined his operations in the 
North to sudden raids and devastations at various points on 
the coast to which his command of the sea gave him easy ac- 
cess, and the patriots being without any sufficient navy could 
do nothing to prevent these devastations. Clinton's solid 
operations, as he called them, his heavy attempts at conquest 
were transferred to the southern states where the patriot de- 
fence was weak and the loyalists more numerous. 

During the spring and summer of 1778 the greatest prep- 
arations had been made in France to increase and equip her 
navy and put it in condition to meet the wooden walls of Eng- 
land; for it was evident that as between France and England 
the war would be almost exclusively naval, and that the assist- 
ance France would give the American patriots would be 
almost exclusively naval assistance. 

Fleets of war vessels at that time, as Captain Mahan shows 
us, usually fought in one of three ways. There was the general 
chase in which one fleet strove to overtake the other and injure 
the rear vessels; the melee in which both fleets plunged into 
the engagement without much direction from the admirals, 
each captain selecting his opponent ; and the formal fleet action 
laid down in the Fighting Instructions, in which each fleet 
was stretched out in long line, well under the control of its 
admiral, and the two gradually came together, van to van, 
centre to centre, and rear to rear, sailing about parallel so that 
ship number one in one line would fight number one in the other 
and so on down the lines in a series of duels. 



This formal fleet action was considered so important that 
English admirals were compelled by instructions to fight in 
that way, if they possibly could, and might be cashiered or shot 
if. they failed to do so. It was such a formal and rigid method 
that it prevented an able admiral from using his judgment or 
concentrating on a weak spot of his opponent. 

A fleet to windward of another, or with the weather gage 
as it was called, had the advantage of being able to become 
the attacking party and sail down upon its enemy. But as it 
sailed down bows on, or nearly so, it could not bring its guns 
to bear, until it turned into a parallel line with the opposing 
fleet, while its opponent could use its broadsides for raking. 
By shooting at its rigging, as it came bows on, the opponent 
might seriously cripple it and then fall off to leeward and 
wait until it came on again to repeat the process. The English, 
being better equipped and more aggressive, usually preferred to 
have the weather gage and be the attacking party. They also 
preferred to aim at the hull of an enemy. The French usually 
aimed at the rigging ; and, as they preferred manoeuvring and 
indecisive actions, were well content with the defensive leeward 
position, which they often made very effective. 

Besides the fleet under D 'Estaing which came to the Ameri- 
can coast in the hope of locking up the British fleet in the 
Delaware, another fleet under D 'Orvilliers cruised in the Eng- 
lish Channel and on the 27th of July fought an action with a 
British fleet under Admiral Keppel, which was regarded as the 
beginning of this new war between France and England. This 
engagement, known as the Battle of Ushant, was an instance of 
the general chase. The French fleet had 27 ships ; the English 
30. D'Orvilliers was under instructions to fight defensively. 
Keppel was free to be aggressive. The English were to leeward, 
but sailed after the French fleet trying to concentrate on its 
rear, which D'Orvilliers by skilful manoeuvring avoided. In 
the end, after the confusion and darkness of a squall, the two 
fleets passed each other, going in opposite directions, and ex- 
changing broadsides. The French lost more men; but the 




English fleet suffered heavily in rigging. Neither side attempted 
to renew the action, both claiming victory; but the affair was 
altogether indecisive. 2 

The French fleet under D 'Estaing having failed to prevent 
Clinton's escape into New York, Washington and D'Estaing 
thought it might be possible to destroy the British fleet in 
the harbor of that town. The French fleet might sail into 
the harbor and at the same time the patriot army might at- 
tack on the. land side. Washington had great hopes of the 
success of the plan; for if New York were now taken the 
result would be even better than if Clinton had been defeated 
in New Jersey, and would surely end the war. It seemed as 
if the French fleet had now a grand opportunity to show the 
value of the alliance with France. 

The British in New York fully expected such an attack and 
made most desperate preparations to defend themselves. The 
crews of the transports, and the captains, mates and sailors 
of merchant vessels, volunteered to fight on the men-of-war. 
So many of the light infantry, grenadiers and even wounded 
officers on shore, were eager to serve as marines that they had 
to be selected by lot. 

But Admiral Howe had no intention of allowing the French 
to attack his vessels while in the harbor. He took his ships out- 
side and down to the extreme northern point of Sandy Hook 
where the main ship channel passed running east and west. By 
this channel, after they had crossed the bar outside in the ocean, 
the French fleet must enter. On the extreme end of Sandy 
Hook Howe erected a battery commanding the narrow channel, 
and with this battery as his right wing he anchored his ships 
along the southern edge of the channel. Each vessel had a 
spring line from her stern to a second anchor, so that when the 

2 Stedman, "American War/' vol. ii, pp. 75-82; Life of Keppel in 
James* "Naval History;" Captain Mahan's chapter in Clowes, "Royal 
Navy," vol. Hi, pp. 412-426. As this is the first occasion of citing Cap- 
tain Mahan's fascinating and enlightening writings I must beg leave 
to express my regret that he so often fails to give the original sources of 
his .information. 

Vol. 1114 209 


French entered from the east, with a flood tide and easterly wind, 
every English ship could be hauled round to present her broad- 
side to the French coming bows on and incapable of using their 
guns. If the French survived this raking fire and continued 
their course, the English ships could swing back so that their 
broadsides would bear across the channel. 

Admiral Howe, when free from political complications and 
his desire to compromise with the patriots, was a very capable 
sea officer, and one of the great admirals of England. It has 
been usual in our histories to explain that D'Estaing could not 
attack him and take New York, because the water on the bar, 
much shoaler it was said than now, would not permit his large 
war-ships with their heavy ordnance to cross. Enormous sums, 
it is said, were offered to pilots who would accomplish the task ; 
but all to no purpose ; and an examination by one of 'D 'Es- 
taing's officers is said to have confirmed the assertion of the 
pilots, that there was only twenty-three feet of water on the 
bar at high tide. 

But Captain Mahan assures us that this was a mere excuse 
and subterfuge ; that Howe would never have made such prep- 
arations if protected by shoal water ; and he cites a letter from 
Admiral Arbuthnot, a year afterwards, to the effect that at the 
high tides each month there was generally thirty feet of water 
on the bar. D'Estaing could easily have crossed, it is sup- 
posed, if favored by an easterly wind and a high spring tide, 
both of which conditions were fulfilled on the 22nd of July. 
The real reason D 'Estaing was unwilling to attack was that the 
very ably chosen position of Howe had turned the numerically 
inferior English fleet into a superior. 3 

On that 22nd day of July, with the wind favorable and the 
water high, D'Estaing sailed as if to enter. Howe fully ex- 
pected to be attacked, believing that there was plenty of water. 

Gordon, " American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, p. 156; Jones, 
"Revolution in New York," vol. i, p. 274; Writings of Washington, Ford 
edition, vol. vii, pp. 101, 104-106, 108, 110, 114; Clowes, "Royal Navy," 
vol. iii, pp. 399-402. 



But D'Estaing soon bore off to the southward and afterwards 
went north to Newport, Ehode Island. 

His going to Newport only proved again how unlucky he 
was; for he was hardly out of sight when British war-ships, 
which he could easily have captured, sailed safely into the 
harbor of New York to reinforce Clinton. They were part 
of Admiral Byron's squadron, which had been separated in 
a storm, and for some days they kept arriving at New 
Tork in such a shattered, dismasted condition and with such 
sickly, worn-out crews, that they would every one have fallen 
an easy prey to D 'Estaing's fleet or even to two or three of his 
ships, which he might have left behind. Soon afterwards, 
there arrived a number of provision ships under convoy, which 
might also have been taken. But all these sailed safely into 
New York, where there was great rejoicing over the return- 
ing good luck and magic success of the British Empire. 

Newport presented a much easier conquest than New York 
and the attack upon it was to be made simultaneously by land 
and water. At the first appearance of the French fleet on the 
5th of August, the British garrison burned or sunk their five 
frigates and also their sloops and transports. On the 10th the 
general attack was to be made by both Americans and French. 
General Sullivan had nearly 10,000 troops, mostly New Eng- 
land militia, which had volunteered with the greatest enthusi- 
asm. Washington sent on Lafayette with 2000 men, and Gen- 
eral Greene was also on hand to assist in this contest on 
the soil of his native state. Counting the 4000 French troops, 
the whole attacking force was about 15,000. 

Washington had great expectations from this expedition. 
The British garrison at Newport contained only about 6000 
men; and with the patriot and French troops, combined with 
the French fleet, he believed that the chances were a hundred 
to one- in favor of success. It would give "the finishing blow," 
he said, "to British pretensions of sovereignty. " It would 
be as good as taking New York; for the British would have 
to leave New York "as fast as their canvass wings <;ould carry 



them." Finishing the war by one great stroke was now the 
prevailing feeling in the patriot mind.* 4 

The plan of attack on Newport was for the patriot troops 
to land on the east side of the island, and the French troops 
on the west, and join in the centre so as to cut off the 
garrison on Butts Hill from the town. General Pigot who, 
with Howe, had led the charge at Bunker Hill, was in com- 
mand of the British; and foreseeing the intention of his ene- 
mies, he withdrew the garrison from Butts Hill and concen- 
trated in the town. Sullivan, thereupon, occupied Butts Hill 
on the 9th of August, without waiting to- carry out. the gen-, 
eral plan arranged for the 10th. 

Unfortunately, however, another, piece of bad luck had 
caused a slight delay of a few days, which marred every- 
thing. The fleet had arrived off Newport on the 29th of July. 
But Sullivan's troops had not all arrived and the general 
attack had been postponed till the 10th of August to give 
them time. This was just two or three days too late; for on 
the 9th, about 2 o'clock in the afternoon, a British fleet of 
nearly twenty-five sail was seen standing in for Newport, and 
it anchored off Point Judith, for the night. The next day 
was the time agreed upon for the French troops to be landed. 
But D'Estaing, fearing to be attacked at anchor by the British 
fleet, stood out to sea with all his ships, at 8 o'clock in the morn- 
ing to fight in the open water. The British, also fearing to be 
attacked at anchor, hastily cut their cables and went out to 
fight in the ocean. 

This British fleet had been made up by Admiral Howe 
from his own ships at' New York and the crippled ships of 
Byron's squadron, which welre hastily repaired. It was a 
brilliant stroke of Admiral Howe to come so quickly and 
boldly, and his promptness had saved Newport. His fleet was 
superior to D'Estaing 's in ships, but not in guns. It has been 
supposed that DTEstaing's better course would have been to 
have staid at his anchorage ; that Howe dared not attack him 

* Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vii, p. 196. 



there. But D 'Estaing appears to have thought that he had 
no choice but to go out to sea, that if he had allowed himself 
to be attacked at anchor, he would have been at great disad- 
vantage, assailed at the same time by the land batteries and a 
fleet provided with fire-ships. 

When he sailed out he had the weather gage, that is to 
say, he was to the windward of the British fleet, which gave 
him such advantage that Howe dared not attack. All the 
rest of the day Howe manoeuvred with all his skill to win the 
weather gage and D 'Estaing manoeuvred to preserve it The 
next day these manoeuvres were continued until, just about the 
time some more of Admiral Byron 's squadron accidentally 
arrived and reinforced Howe, a terrific gale amounting almost 
to a tornado arose and blew for forty-eight hours, scattering 
both the fleets over the ocean. 5 

When the gale subsided, several of the ships met and 
fought indecisive actions. The "Dawson" met D'Estaing's 
flag-ship, the "Languedoc," dismasted and with her rudder 
broken, fired a few shots at her and sailed away. The "Pres- 
ton" met the "Tenant" and fought until night ended the 
engagement. The "Isis" and the French ship "Caesar/' 
neither of which had suffered in the storm, fought hotly almost 
side by side for an hour and a half, when the captain oi the 
"Caesar" having lost his arm, abandoned the fight and the 
"Isis" was too much crippled to follow. 

But the general result of the whole affair was that the two 
fleets were scattered along the coast of New England and 
some of the British vessels are supposed to have been driven 
as far south as Virginia. The British returned to New York 
to refit; some of the French are said to have refitted in the 

* " Memoirs and Correspondence of Lafayette/' London edition, 1837, 
vol. i, p. 57; Pontgibatid, "A French. Volunteer of the War of Independ- 
ence,'* p. 68 ; Gordon, " American Revolution," e'dition 1788, vol. iii, p. 
159; Jones, ".New York in the Revolution," vol. i, p. 276; Writings of 
Washington, Ford edition, vol. vii, pp. 128 note, 154 note; Stedman, 
"American War," vol. ii, pp. 27-31; Johnson, "Life of Greene," vol. i, 
p. 109. 



.Delaware-, but all the French vessels, except the " Caesar," 
which went to Boston, appear to have returned to Newport 
on the 20th of August. 

Sullivan's troops at Butts Hill had suffered severely in 
the gale which swept down their tents, damaged the powder, 
drowned horses and men and reduced the whole camp to such 
a weak condition that they fully expected to be attacked and 
cut to pieces by Pigot. But by the 20th of August, when the 
French fleet returned, they had restored themselves to war- 
like condition, and moved down within two miles of the Brit- 
ish at Newport to begin a regular siege; and they now de- 
manded that D'Estaing should fulfil his promise of assisting 

General Greene and Lafayette went on board the flag-ship 
to consult with him. But to their great disgust they found 
that, while he was entirely willing, his captains had refused 
and had entered a formal protest against the attack. The cause 
of this extraordinary conduct is said to have been that 
D'Estaing was a military officer and the captains being sailors 
thwarted all his purposes and were determined that he should 
not win distinction. The navies of Europe grew out of the 
armies, were at first officered in the higher grades by military 
men and the remains of this system were still lingering in 
France. The French navy was at that time officered exclu- 
sively from the old aristocracy and a pedigree was required 
for admission. The captains had taken refuge in D'Estaing's 
instructions which read that, in case of misfortune or a superior 
English fleet on the coast, he should go to Boston; and to 
Boston the captains now took him in spite of his willingness 
to take Newport. 

Sullivan and his officers naturally asked themselves of 
what use was the French alliance to America if the French 
fleet sent to our coast would not fight. They sent to D 'Estaing 
a formal protest against this abandonment as derogatory to 
the honor of France, destructive to the welfare of the United 
States and highly injurious to the alliance. The patriot army, 



they said, might now be isolated on Newport Island and 

D 'Estaing was offended at the protest and sailed away the 
same day for Boston, where he protected his fleet by land 
batteries on the shore, while Sullivan in his usual hot, hasty 
manner, issued general orders, commenting bluntly on the 
French, and intimating that America would now take care 
of herself without the assistance of her allies. 

D 'Estaing afterwards put forward plenty of excuses about 
the difficulty of obtaining water and provisions, necessity of 
refitting his ships and the danger of Howe coming back with 
a superior force. But nothing could prevent a clamor all 
through New England against the " shameful desertion" of 
the French. Severe letters were sent to Boston, where the 
people were inclined to refuse the French admission to the 
harbor, and such a feeling was created that it was feared it 
might endanger the alliance. 

A street fight with French sailors in Boston, amounting 
almost to a riot, in which a French officer was killed, and 
another wounded, was very likely due to this feeling; and 
there was a similar disturbance in Charleston, South Caro- 
lina. The cooler heads among the patriots and the French 
officers did everything to smooth over the difficulty. The 
Congress directed that the protest sent to D 'Estaing be kept 
secret, and never published. Washington urged officers to say in 
public that the retirement of the French fleet to Boston was an 
act of necessity. The unfortunate Boston street fight was 
charged upon captured British sailors and some of Burgoyne's 
surrendered troops. The Massachusetts legislature voted a 
monument to the French officer who was killed; and an ex- 
change of public dinners between the French officers and the 
legislature was arranged. 

D 'Estaing made the greatest effort to restore the former 
friendliness ; and finally offered to go in person at the head of 
a regiment and serve under General Sullivan as he had for- 
merly served under Marshal Saxe in the war which ter- 
minated in 1748. 


"I should not have taken this step," he said, "with the idea of 
strengthening an army with such a handful of men, nor proving what 
is already known, that the French nation can sacrifice life with a good 
grace; but I was anxious to demonstrate that my countrymen could not 
be offended by a sudden expression of feeling, and that he, who had the 
honor of commanding them in America, was and would be at all times' 
one of the most devoted and zealous servants of the United States," 
(Writings of Washington, Ford, edition, vol. vii, p. 182 note.) 

To the French Admiral Washington wrote letters of such 
finished courtesy and good feeling that one might suppose him 
to have been born in France. But, in spite of all this, there 
was an unpleasant under-current; the French officers noticed' 
a certain coolness towards them which may have been an 
additional reason for their commander taking his fleet to the 
West Indies as soon as it was repaired. Those islands con- 
stituted the weak point of France, the point England would 
attack; and Clinton had intended to blockade D'Estaing 
in Boston harbor so that he could not reach them. 6 

Meantime, Sullivan *s army continued to desert and he 
and Greene were at their wits' end to save the remainder; 
for Clinton or Admiral Howe with a heavy force might now 
arrive at any moment. They accordingly removed from the 
island all their baggage and heavy artillery by the 26th of 
August, and on the night of the 28th took their whole army 
back to Butts Hill, where they were close to communication 
with the main-land and could escape at any time. Early the 
next morning, they found that Pigot had followed them, and a 
severe action was fought all day, with no result. 

The next morning Sullivan was informed that a fleet un- 
der Admiral Howe had been sighted off Block Island. There 

Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, pp. 165-169, 
197, 198, 200; "Memoirs and Correspondence of Lafayette," London edi- 
tion, 1837, vol. i, pp., 58, 59, 60; Writings of Washington, Ford edition, 
vol. vii, 160-164, 166, 168-175, 180, 182 note; New York Historical 
Society Collections, 1873, vol. iii, pp. 234, 254; Stedman, "American 
War/' vol. ii, pp. 38, 46, 47; Pontgihaud, "A French Volunteer in the War 
of Independence," p. 68 ; Jones, ** New York in the Revolution/' vol. i, 
p. 277; Johnson, "Life of Greene/* vol. i, pp. 108-125, 



was no hope of D'Estaing returning from Boston in time to 
check this fleet ; and there was nothing to be done but retreat 
to the main-land. Sullivan put a bold front on it He pitched 
tents in an advanced position and employed nearly his whole 
force in fortifying while his stores and baggage were carried 
over to the main-land,, and at night under cover of the dark- 
ness his whole army was withdrawn from its advanced position 
and left the island. 

The success of the retreat was much admired, and it re- 
sembled the one made by Washington after the Battle of 
Long Island. Sullivan took away all his men and baggage 
without the slightest loss. Lafayette had been to Boston, in 
the vain attempt to persuade JD'Estaing to Dhurry back to 
Newport, and he returned just in time to conduct the last of 
the retreat, bringing off the pickets and last of the troops 
with characteristic pains and carefulness. 



WASHINGTON, with his headquarters at White Plains, had 
part of his troops protecting West Point on the Hudson and 
others extended eastward from White Plains towards Boston. 
He was thus ready to inarch to Boston and help relieve the 
French fleet if, as he expected, it should be attacked by the 

Ever since the evacuation of Philadelphia, the patriots had 
felt considerable confidence that England would now have to 
withdraw her troops from the American continent and con- 
centrate them in the West Indies in order to protect her valu- 
able islands from the French. She must either give up the 
continent or the islands. It would be impossible for her to 
hold both ; and for many months Washington had been expect- 
ing to hear of the evacuation of New York, which would give 
the patriot army a chance to invade Canada and add a new 
state to the Union. 

But the preparations in New York which seemed like evacu- 
ation, were merely preparations to send part of Clinton's 
troops to reinforce the English West Indies. Clinton had no 
idea of giving up the continent. The fleet, which had been 
reported to Sullivan as off Block Island, had Clinton himself 
on board with 4,000 troops, with which he intended to annihi- 
late the patriots at Newport. But having missed his prey, 
he bore away for Boston, where finding the French fleet 
securely protected in the harbor by land batteries, he sailed 
back into Long Island Sound. When off New London he 
directed the fleet and troops to go back to New Bedford, 



Massachusetts, and destroy its privateers and other shipping 
while he himself returned in one of the ships to New York. 1 

This attack on New Bedford, on the 5th of September, 
was the beginning of Clinton's raiding policy. General Grey 
of no-flint fame was in command and it was congenial work 
for him. He destroyed over seventy large vessels besides small 
craft, burnt the magazines, wharfs, stores, warehouses, ship- 
yards, together with mills and a considerable number of dwell- 
ing houses. He then went to Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket 
and the Elizabeth Islands, where he destroyed vessels, seized 
the militia arms, compelled a payment of public money, and 
took 300 oxen and 10,000 sheep, which were sent to the army 
at New York. 2 

The principle underlying all of Clinton's raids, was that 
they should strike at the most prosperous parts of the country, 
where there was long established trade and wealth and a con- 
servative, well-settled people, who would thus become disgusted 
with a patriot cause that could not protect their property. 

The old shipping and whaling interest, together with the 
new privateering interest of New Bedford, were well selected ; 
and it was this sort of thing which in the beginning of the war 
had been so much dreaded by the patriots. It had seemed that 
England's command of the sea gave her unlimited power 
to lay waste every spot of ground near navigable water in 
America. A sudden raid, like this on New Bedford, was 
quickly and easily accomplished by the fleet with troops who 
could do their work and escape before any patriot force could 
be summoned to oppose them. If such a policy had been 
rigorously carried out from the beginning it is difficult to see 
how the patriot cause could have survived. 

A few weeks after the return of the troops and ships from 
New Bedford, Clinton planned another raid to Egg Harbor 

1 Gordon, " American Kevolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, p. 169 ; Jones, 
"New York in the Kevolution," vol. i, p. 278; Stedman, " American 
War/' vol. ii, p. 32. 

Gordon, " American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, p. 169; Sted- 
man, " American War," vol. ii, pp. 39, 44. 



and the Mulliea River in the neighborhood of what is now 
Tuckerton on the coast of New Jersey. This inlet from the 
sea at Egg Harbor had become of considerable importance 
during the last, few years and was the resort of numerous 
American privateers and trading vessels, which could not enter 
either the Delaware or New York harbor, where the British 
war-ships were in control. The cargoes of patriot merchant 
vessels could be taken to Egg Harbor and up the Mullica Eiver, 
and thence distributed by wagons to different parts of the 
country. The privateers found the inlet an excellent place 
of refuge as well as a good point from which to watch for 
British merchant vessels bound to New York. Admiral Howe 
had never interfered with Egg Harbor, never attacked or 
blockaded it as one would suppose he could easily have done, 
and he allowed the patriots to develop its advantages as they 

When Clinton decided in September to break it up, he 
first sent an expedition up the Hudson for the double purpose, 
as is supposed, of collecting forage and masking his intention 
at Egg Harbor. This Hudson expedition consisted of two 
columns, one under Knyphausen going up the east side of the 
river, and- another under Cornwallis going up the west side, 
with galleys, frigates and armed vessels following in the river 
so that each column was ready to support the other by crossing 
the river in boats. 

It was a powerful expedition, and made a clean sweep of 
both sides of the Hudson. Washington's main force kept close 
in its intrenehments in the Highlands; but some troops were 
sent out under General Wynd to annoy the British on the west 
side, and Wynd had under him a very popular young Vir- 
ginian of good estate, Colonel Baylor, in command of some 
light cavalry. 

On the night of the 27th of September, Baylor and his 
men lay asleep in a barn- near Old Tappan at some distance 
from Wyndj and rather too near the force of Cornwallis, who 
determined to capture both Wynd's and Baylor's commands. 
Some deserters from the British informed Wynd in time for 



his 'men to escape ; but' No-Flint Grey succeeded in making a* 
complete surprise and capture of Baylor's sleeping force. 
Grey again adopted his Paoli tactics, ordered his men to draw 
their loads and flints from their guns, and instructed them to 
give no quarter. Sixty-seven of Baylor's unarmed and sleep- 
ing men were cut down and stabbed as soon as they awoke, and 
the remaining forty odd were taken alive only because one of 
Grey's captains was unwilling to carry out the order to show 
no quarter. 

An investigation by Congress led to protests and a contro- 
versy with Great Britain, without, of -course, any results. But 
the affair was kept* alive in patriot memory as a new atrocity 
of the enemy, and vengeance taken by increased severity to the 
loyalists. 3 

About a week after the massacre at Old Tappan, Captain 
Ferguson with 300 troops arrived off the inlet at Egg Harbor. 
Ferguson, who afterwards became prominent in the South, was 
a Scotchman, the nephew of Dr. Adam Ferguson, who came out 
with the peace commission of 1778. He had interested himself 
in introducing the rifle, and is said to have invented a breech- 
loader. He had the reputation of being a good marksman 
and had given exhibitions of his skill in England, firing his 
rifle- six times in a minute, and hitting the -target while lying 
on his back, with other -remarkable performances. His right 
arm -had been shattered at the Battle of the Brandywine, and 
he boasted that at that battle he had had a chance to shoot 
"Washington, but had -refrained/ : 

His raid on Egg- Harbor was most successful. He -pene- 
trated up the Mullica Biver for twenty miles to Chestnut Neck, 
burning ten large vessels, chiefly prizes, which had tried to 
escape. . . Some of the privateers and smaller vessels got farther 
up the river and were safe. But' Ferguson burned- all the 

* Stryker, "The Massacre at Old Tappan; " Gordon, " American Revo- 
lution," edition 1788, vol. iii, p. 194; Jones, "NewYork in 'the Revolu- 
tion," vol. i, p. 285; Stedman,' * American War," vol. ii, p. '41. 

* Draper, "King's Mountain and Its Heroes,** pp. 48-67. 



storehouses and yards for fitting out privateers, and destroyed 
the houses of prominent patriots. 

A small patriot force, known as Pulaski's Legion, had been 
sent to cheek Ferguson, and was encamped near the mouth 
of the Mullica Eiver. When Ferguson had returned to his 
ships at the inlet some deserters from the patriots informed 
him of the careless manner in which Pulaski was encamped. 
Ferguson immediately organized a night expedition which 
led by the deserters fell upon Pulaski's infantry in the dark- 
ness. There was another tale of prisoner killing, which might 
have been worse if Pulaski had not been able to bring his 
cavalry to the rescue, and force the British to retreat to their 
boats. 5 

These expeditions up the Hudson and to Egg Harbor 
inflicted heavy loss upon the country, not merely in the burn- 
ing and destruction of ships, houses and stores, but in the 
enormous quantities of forage, and droves of cattle, horses, 
and sheep, which were taken on both sides of the Hudson 
and carried down to New York for the British army. The 
loyalists complained that this plunder was taken too indis- 
criminately, and that they were compelled to suffer almost as 
much as the patriots. 

At the same time another raid was conducted by Tryon 
through Long Island, which was largely loyalist, except at its 
extreme eastern end, where there were many patriots employed 
in grazing large stocks of cattle. From these patriots, Tryon 
collected a great drove of cattle, with which he returned to 
New York in safety; but not, it is said, before his troops had 
done much damage to the loyalists and robbed the farm of 

"Stryker, "The Affair at Egg Harbor; " Stedman, "American War, 5 ' 
vol. ii, pp. 43-46; Jones, *'New York in the Revolution,' 5 vol. i, p. 287; 
Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, pp. 195, 196; 
Draper, "King's Mountain and Its Heroes," pp. 56, 61 note. Por some 
other instances of prisoner-killing see Magazine of American History, 
vol. xi, p. 275 note; "Memoirs and Correspondence of Lafayette," London 
edition, 1837, vol. i, pp. 31, 32. 


Colonel Floyd while Tryon and his officers were dining with 
its owner. 6 

These raids completed Clinton's work in the North, for the 
autumn of 1778; and very successful work it was. He had 
defeated every operation of the French fleet and reduced it to 
a nullity so far as aid to the patriots was concerned. He had 
intended to lock up the French fleet in Boston harbor and pre- 
vent it going to the protection of the French West Indies. But 
Admiral Byron's ships, with which he intended to accomplish 
this brilliant stroke, were so shattered by successive storms that 
they could accomplish nothing and the last storm drove them 
from the entrance of Boston Bay. 7 Clinton had nevertheless 
struck heavy blows at patriot property, sweeping in enormous 
supplies of provisions, forage and cattle. He had reduced 
the northern patriots from a feeling of great hopefulness to a 
state of great despondency; and he had had the satisfaction 
of seeing them quarrel with their allies the French. 

For the coming winter months, when campaigning would 
be difficult in the North, he and the Ministry had planned great 
things for the southern states, and the West Indies. General 
Grant sailed with a squadron of ships under Commodore Hot- 
ham and 5000 troops, to attack the French islands; and this 
expedition sailed from New York on the 3rd of November, the 
same day that the French fleet left Boston for the West Indies. 

Clinton also sent 3000 troops to Florida. He had already 
sent 700 to Halifax, and 300 to Bermuda, and all these de- 
tachments weakened his New York force by about 9000 men. 
The patriots still believed that he would before long evacuate 
the continent and concentrate in the West Indies; and it was 
not until February that they gave up all hope of this happy 
result. 8 

It was by no means an unwarranted supposition. Eng- 

Jones, "New York in the Revolution," vol. i, pp. 287, 288. 

T Stedman, " American War/' vol. ii, pp, 46, 47. 

Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vii, pp. 213, 214, 220, 
239, 184, 191, 196, 208, 212, 226, 237, 259, 297, 318, 319, 394, 395. See 
also pp. 23, 29, 40, 133, 136. 



land's military and naval forces must now be scattered all 
over the world to resist the attacks of France in India and in 
the West Indies, and protect England herself 'from invasion. 
She could Spare Clinton, as he bitterly complained, o&ly one- 
third of the force she had allowed Howe. And Tarleton, in his 
narrative of the war, speaks of some military men as opposed 
to this wide dispersion of forces, presenting a comparatively 
weak defence at every point. They suggested that the force 
in the rebellious colonies be withdrawn, and concentrated on 
crushing France in her most vulnerable point, the West Indies. 
This policy is said to have been recommended to the Ministry 
by Lord Amherst, on the principle that if France were com- 
pletely crushed by the whole concentrated' energy of Great 
Britain the patriot party in America could be easily tired out 
and the peaceful surrender of the colonies would soon follow 
as a matter of ccnirse. 9 

England had three groups of valuable possessions, India, 
the West Indies and America. It might be well, it was said, 
to let go of one of them in order to save the other two. But 
the plan adopted was to keep up the war at every point, 
in India, the West Indies, the rebellious colonies and on the 
ocean. The American patriots evidently could not take either 
New York, Canada or Newport, and the French seemed equally 
incapable in regard to those places. Predatory expeditions 
could be sent out from New York, inflict great damage and 
safely return. British wealth and resources could keep this 
method going for years, and it would eventually bring about 
a compromise or wear out the patriots, whose numbers were 
few and their resources limited. A patriot army, like Wash- 
ington X living from hand to mouth, with no power to punish 
desertion or compel enlistments, could not, in the long rim, 
endure the steady grinding process of a regular military estab- 
lishment backed by a rich nation willing to stand out to the 

9 Tarleton's Narrative, p. 2 ; Bancroft, " History of the United States," 
edition of 1888, vol. v, p. 282. 


lll i: i!is 1|l * ^i i>! 1 i cA i ', 


detachment from these troops engaged in capturing the French 
island of St. Lucia. If he had been a day sooner he might 
have caught the troops of General Meadows in an awkward 
position just as they had landed on St. Lucia. But now they 
had more than half possession of the island and could defend 
the harbor with the war-ships that had brought them. 

D 'Estaing bombarded the war-ships to no purpose, and then 
landed his troops to seize a height which would command the 
harbor only to find this height already occupied by the British. 
In desperation he drew out 5000 of his best troops to attack 
the main lines of General Meadows, and made three gallant 
charges, each of which was repulsed with heavy loss. Four 
hundred were killed and over a thousand wounded ; and these 
casualties amounted to more, it is said, than the number of 
English defending the trenches. 10 

D 'Estaing had evidently been born under an unlucky star, 
He excelled only in arriving too late and always doing the 
wrong thing. He had lost an important island ; for St. Lucia 
served the English as a naval base from which to watch the 
French for the rest of the war. The West Indies were then 
one of the richest commercial regions of the world and in 
this respect almost rivalled India. It would ruin France to lose 
her hold there; and the acquisitions of new islands would 
enrich England. 

Washington tried to comfort D 'Estaing by saying that * 
he had never known so deserving a man have so many mis- 
fortunes. His misfortunes had thus far greatly increased 
the strength of Great Britain in North America and in the 
West Indies. Clinton, on the other hand, was not only prompt 
and judicious in all his movements, but supremely fortunate 
beyond even his expectations and intentions. He and the 
Ministry were making war in earnest and the patriots were 
amazed at the result of the French alliance. 

1D Annual Register, 1779, chaps, iii, xj Gordon, "American Devolu- 
tion," edition 1788, vol. iii, pp. 242-247; Stedman, "American War," 
vol. if, pp. 83-91; Clowes, "Royal Navy," iii, pp. 427-432. 



Washington's letters became gloomy. He visited Congress 
and described the patriot cause as in a " ruinous and deplorable 
condition." It is no longer a question, he says, whether Great 
Britain can carry on the war, but "can we carry it on much 
longer !" The people and the army appeared to grow daily 
more tired of the contest The depreciation of the currency 
increased, and as he put it "a rat in the shape of a horse is 
not to be bought at this time for less than 200. J>11 

The French fleets had abandoned their own coast and 
French commerce had become the prey of British cruisers. In 
India the English had seized the opportunity of attacking the 
French stronghold at Pondicherry, and had taken it, together 
with the French settlements and factories at Chandenagor, 
Yaman, and Karical This left to France very little hope 
of controlling India and sharing in the vast wealth of plunder 
in that wondrous country, out of whose hoarded treasures 
England has grown to power and greatness. Thus instead 
of being injured by our alliance with France England had in 
the very first year of it reaped an enormous advantage. She 
could well afford to abandon all her American colonies if she 
gained exclusive control in India. Our alliance with France 
seemed to be ruining our good friend without assisting the 
patriot cause. Turgot's doubts about the wisdom of the 
alliance seemed in a measure to be justified. Was it worth 
while for France to lose all her hold on India, besides other 
losses, merely for the sake of avenging the loss of Canada and 
breaking up the union of the Anglo-Saxon race? 12 

"Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vii, pp. 208, 209, 210, 
220, 243, 297, 301. 

"Gordon, "American Kevolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, pp. 239, 
252; Annual Register 1 1779, chap, ix; Stedman, "American War," vol. ii, 
p. 82. 



IN addition to his expeditions against the French West 
Indies, Clinton prepared to carry on active campaigning in the 
southern states, where the climate would be in his favor during 
the winter. This plan of transferring the war to the South in 
winter was a most obvious and natural one, which Wash- 
ington had always expected Howe to carry out 1 

Nothing better shows the uselessness of the long periods of 
quiescence from December to June of Howe's great army, and 
the absurdity of the excuses he gave for it, than the activity 
and success of Clinton with a much smaller army during the 
first winter of his command. 

He selected Georgia as the best place in which to begin his 
southern conquest as it was the weakest and easiest to take. A 
combined movement upon it was planned almost immediately 
after Grant sailed for the West Indies. General Prevost, who 
commanded in East Florida, a strongly loyalist province, was to 
attack Georgia from the south at the same time that a fleet and 
army from New York supported him by attacking Savannah. 
On the west Clinton had arranged that the Indian tribes from 
Detroit and the Great Lakes, all down the Mississippi Valley 
to 'Georgia, should be aroused and thrown against the southern 
seaboard colonies. 

It was similar to his Indian plan in 1776, when he and Sir 
Peter Parker tried to take Charleston. But the Indians again 
failed him. He had relied on Henry Hamilton, the governor 
at Detroit, to start southward with his Indians through the 
Ohio Valley and join the southern tribes. Hamilton had pra- 

* Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. v, pp. 4, 5. 



ceeded as far as, Yincennes on the Wabash; but, as we have 
already related, his whole force was surprised and taken by the 
patriot guardian of that region, George Eogers Clark, and his 
riflemen. 2 

The other expeditions against Georgia were more success- 
ful. The preliminary raid from loyal East Florida was com- 
posed of two armed bodies made up of regulars and loyalists. 
One party came up in boats through the sounds along the coast 
and demanded the surrender of Sunbury, which being refused; 
they returned. The other party marched inland towards Sav- 
annah, skirmishing with about a hundred patriot militia. The 
patriot, General Scriven, was wounded in one of the engage- 
ments and while lying on the ground was shot by several of the 
British, the first of the atrocities of this kind, which soon 
desolated the whole southern country. 

The raiders got as far as Ogeechee Perry, where a planter's 
slaves had erected intrenchments held by Colonel Elbert and 
200 patriots. This stopped the raiders, who returned to 
Florida, desolating the country as they passed through it, 
burning houses, rice and grain and carrying off the horses, 
cattle and negroes. 

The regular expedition from New York started on the 27th 
of November in command of Colonel Campbell with 2500 Hes- 
sians and British troops in transports, convoyed by a small 
squadron, all of which could have been prevented if the French 
fleet had remained on the coast. But with that fleet in the 
West Indies, Clinton could do as he pleased on the water. 

On the 29th of December, Campbell effected a landing near 
Savannah, where a narrow causeway leading through a rice 
swamp gave him access to the town. The causeway was occu- 
pied by General Robert Howe with his 820 militia in a strong 

'English, "The Conquest of the North West," vol. i, chaps. 10 and 
11; Kirk, " Rear Guard of the Revolution/' pp. 159-177; Gordon, "Ameri- 
can Revolution," edition 1788, vol. Hi, p. 261; Writings of Washington, 
Ford edition, vol. 8, pp. 4-6, 121, 122 note; Illinois State Historical 
Library Collections, vol. i, pp. 171-289. 



position. But lie had neglected to protect a by-path which led 
round through the swamp to his rear; and the British threat- 
ened his front while they sent a force around by the path 
which almost entrapped him. He escaped just as the British 
were about to surround him. 

Shortly afterward, Savannah with all its supplies, cannon, 
shipping and over 400 militia was in the possession of the 
English, who, in pursuing their enemy through the streets, 
bayonetted some of the unarmed inhabitants, and drove the 
remains of the militia to take refuge in South Carolina. 

Meantime General Prevost, coming up through the sounds 
from East Florida, had taken Sunbury with its 200 patriot 
defenders, and reaching Savannah outranked Campbell and 
took command of Georgia. The loyalists came in and sub- 
mitted and many patriots fled westward and northward. This 
conquest of Georgia was a great surprise to the southern patriot 
party, who, so far from expecting anything of the kind, had 
been preparing to capture East Florida, which seemed an easy 
prey. With this end in view, the South Carolina delegates in 
the Congress had, in September, persuaded that body to send 
General Lincoln to Charleston to take command of all the 
southern patriot militia and descend upon Florida. 

Lincoln reached Charleston only a few days after the British 
expedition started from New York. He collected troops from 
the two Carolinas and with some 950 men marched southward 
in time only to meet the fugitive Georgia militia retreating 
from the British, who had taken Savannah. He now found, to 
his great disappointment, that the patriot party was extremely 
weak and the number of men who would take the field was 
exceedingly few. 

He had been led to expect a grand army of 7000 men. But, 
with the greatest exertions during the month of January, 1779, 
and the assistance of General Ashe of North Carolina, and 
other local leaders, he found himself with less than 3000 and 
these more unmanageable and independent than the northern 
militia under Washington. When ordered to march they re- 
fused obedience until they had obtained satisfactory answers 



to their questions, "Where are we going, and how long are we 
to stay?" 3 

The British were able to take complete possession of Georgia 
at their ease; and besides Savannah, they established posts to 
control the central and western parts of the state at Ebenezer 
and Augusta. Oaths of allegiance to the king were admin- 
istered all over the state, the old colonial government was 
restored, the courts of justice opened, an assembly called and 
all the necessary officers from a governor down to a petty 
constable appointed Tinder royal authority. Great Britain had 
actually conquered one of her old American colonies and re- 
duced it apparently to complete submission. 

The question then arose whether the conquest could be 
extended into South Carolina and at first the English were 
unsuccessful. A detachment of 200 which attempted to take 
Port Royal in that state, were beaten back by General Moultrie, 
who had defended Charleston from Clinton and Sir Peter 
Parker in June, 1776. A body of South Carolina loyalists 
who marched to join the British at Augusta were pursued by 
Colonel Pickens across the Savannah River, and cut to pieces 
in a decisive engagement. Seventy of the prisoners were tried 
and convicted of treason to the state and five of the prominent 
ones executed, which, of course, encouraged the hatred, re- 
prisals and murders between patriot and loyalist which had 
already begun. 

The struggle was now for the control of the Savannah 
River, the boundary between Georgia and South Carolina. 
If it were held by the British they could then continue 
their control of Georgia and possibly enter South Carolina. 
Lincoln ' began establishing posts along the river and sent 
General Ashe with 1500 troops to a point opposite Augusta 
which was immediately abandoned by Campbell, who supposed 
the American force much larger than it was. Ashe followed 

'Stedman, " American War," vol, ii, pp. 66-72, 103; Gordon, "Ameri- 
can Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, p. 229; Jones, "New York in the 
Revolution/* vol. i, pp. 289, 290 ; Lee, Memoirs, vol. i, p. 69. 



Campbell down the river, but at Briar Creek on the 2d of 
March was suddenly surprised and completely routed by Gen- 
eral Prevost, who had made a circuitous march of 50 miles to 
get in his rear. More than 160 Americans were captured, 150 
killed, and the rest drowned or scattered through the country. 

This disaster settled the question of the Savannah Eiver, 
and gave the British complete control of Georgia with means of 
communicating with the loyalists and Indians of the Carolinas, 

The South Carolina patriots now made vigorous efforts to 
protect their state. The militia were collected at Orangeburg; 
raiders were sent into Georgia to destroy indiscriminately pro- 
visions, cattle and wagons that might sustain and aid the 
enemy; and in these matters the patriot governor, John Rut- 
ledge, acted without consulting General Lincoln, who repre- 
sented the Congress. 

In April, Lincoln started to invade Georgia, cut off the com- 
munications of the British with the western part of the country, 
and confine them closely to the seaboard. But no sooner was 
he well on his way up the Savannah Eiver, than General 
Prevost, taking advantage of his absence, made a dash at 
Charleston, driving Moultrie before him, and plundering and 
devastating the country. He arrived before Charleston on the 
llth of May, but a delay of two or three days in his progress 
had given time for Moultrie and the governor to make unusual 
exertions. Militia from all over the state had hurried into the 
town by forced marches. Entrenchments of earth and fallen 
trees were stretched across the land side of the town, with 
lighted tar barrels burning all night to prevent a sudden sur- 
prise, and 3300 militia collected behind them. 

The governor and patriot civil authorities then offered to 
make with Prevost a curious sort of treaty, which shows a 
certain independence of the rest of the country, that has fre- 
quently cropped out in the South Carolina character. If the 
British army would withdraw, South Carolina would agree to 
remain neutral during the rest of the war and then accept 
whatever fate had befallen her neighboring states. If Prevost 
had accepted this offer it might, as Harry Lee said, have dis- 



armed South Carolina during the remainder of the [Revolution, 
settled the fate of North Carolina and Georgia and "with the 
allurements of British commerce would probably have woven a 
connection with Great Britain, fatal in its consequences to the 
independence of the southern states. " But that good fortune 
which was so conspicuous in the Revolution again attended on 
our side. Prevost stupidly declined this offer to put South 
Carolina, and possibly the whole South, out of the patriot 
union, giving as his reason his lack of authority to accept 
anything but a military surrender.* 

Having missed his chance, and learning that Lincoln was 
hurrying back and might attack his rear, he abandoned the 
siege, and retreated thirty miles from Charleston to Stono 
Ferry, near the coast. He remained there until the 20th of 
June, when he was attacked by Lincoln's army, and fought a 
battle of some severity. Lincoln's loss in killed and wounded 
was considerable, and the attack failed. The British returned 
to Georgia, carrying with them it is said 3000 slaves and con- 
siderable silver plate from the rich planters' houses, together 
with money, jewelry and other plunder. The slaves were sold 
by the officers in the West Indies and netted them a neat sum, 
as their share of the spoil. 

But all this plunder, it is said, was small compared with 
the devastation and destruction they committed under the 
new method of war Clinton had adopted, and which his gen- 
erals in the South carried out to the letter by sending out small 
parties on every side, spreading the depredations as far as 
possible, burning houses, crops, food supplies of every kind, 
slaughtering cattle, horses and even dogs, and creating such a 
desert that a thousand slaves, it is said, besides those carried 
off, were scattered in the woods and swamps and died of 
famine. 5 

*Lee, Memoirs, vol. i, pp. 85, 86; Jones, "New York In the Revolu- 
tion," vol. i, p. 290 note. 

5 Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, pp. 253-260; 
Cobbett, " Parliamentary History," vol. sx, p. 839 ; Lee, Memoirs, vol. i, 
p. 90; Stedraan, "American War," vol. ii, pp. 103-120. 



All this success in the West Indies and the South brought 
new hope and confidence to the people of England. Parlia- 
ment and London society felt relieved and began to wonder 
how they could have been so absurd as to think that France 
could do anything for the rebels. "What a funk they had been 
in over it, and what unnecessary humiliation to hurry out that 
undignified peace commission with extravagant offers to repeal 
acts of Parliament and give more liberty to colonists* In Par- 
liament, Georgia was declared to be out of the revolt, and in the 
peace of the King. One colony had been saved, which was 
more than Howe had accomplished with a huge army and three 
years of war. 

The loyalists plucked up courage ; and many patriots were 
becoming heartily sick of the renewed hopelessness of their 
cause, the anarchy, confusion, and lawlessness in the country, 
the depreciated paper money, the stagnation and ruin of all 
legitimate business, the weakness and inefficiency of the Con- 
gress as a governing body, the selfishness and supposed corrup- 
tion of many of its members, the danger that the country, 
unable to govern itself, would fall into the hands of France. 

As a natural consequence of this condition, the extreme pa- 
triots became more desperate and determined than ever and 
their hatred of the loyalists increased, until they hesitated at 
scarcely any measure of punishment and repression. It is in 
this period that the severest treatment of the loyalists began, 
their total disf ranchisement, deprivation of the right to sue in 
the courts, collect debts, be executor or guardian, buy or sell 
land, execute a valid will, practise a profession or hold any office 
of trust or profit; and this treatment was continued with in- 
creasing severity even after the Eevolution was supposed to 
have been ended by the treaty of peace.* 

6 Flick, "Loyalism in New York;" Van Tyne, "Loyalists of the 
American Revolution," pp. 190-200. 



DURING the winter, Washington consulted with the Con- 
gress as to what could be done during the coming summer of 
1779 and the conclusion was that it would not be well to 
attempt anything except hold the Hudson Highlands and pun- 
ish the Indians who had conducted the massacres in Wyoming 
and Cherry Valley. The British forces in New York and 
Newport were too strong to be attacked; and Canada could 
not be invaded. "Our resources of men/' said Washington, 
"I believe rather decrease." The difficulty of feeding even a 
small army in the exhausted state of the country, was becoming 
greater than ever. The officers were so disgusted with their 
situation, that Washington felt obliged to warn Congress that 
a dissolution of the army was not an improbable event. His 
advice was to pass the coming year in comparative inactivity ; 
wait, rest and let the patriot resources recuperate. 1 

Indeed, nothing else could be done. An extraordinary 
lethargy had seized the patriot party. Washington had feared 
this as a result of the French alliance, and several of his let- 
te,rs at that time reminded the party that they must continue 
to rely on themselves, and not leave everything to France. But 
the lethargy was not merely due to the belief that the struggle 
was now transferred to the West Indies. The wearing- out pro- 
cess of the war had begun to tell and the high enthusiasm of 
the first years was exhausted. In March the state of affairs 
grew worse. 

"I have seen, without despondency, even for a moment, the hours 
which America has styled her gloomy ones ; but I have beheld no day since 

1 Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vii, pp. 6, 319-326, 329, 
435, 448 note, 450, 456, 460, 505; vol. 8, pp. 138, 145, 146-250; Bolton, 
"Private Soldier under Washington," pp. 35-39, 47, 101, 172, 183, 
235, 236. 



the commencement of hostilities that I have thought her liberties in such 
imminent danger as at present. 1 ' (Writings of Washington, Ford edition, 
vol. vii, p. 382.) 

ffhe contrast between the destitution and suffering of the 
army and the ease with which the speculators and middlemen, 
"stock jobbers, forestallers and engrossers/ 7 as they were called, 
made money out of the fluctuations in prices and the inflated 
currency caused many an outburst of indignation in Washing- 
ton's letters of this time. His plantation and estates were now 
yielding him, nothing; he had used up all his saddle horses, 
and was obliged to accept one as a present. 2 

The printing presses in the British army were busily at 
work counterfeiting the paper money of the Congress ; and the 
loyalists were distributing the counterfeits in full faith that by 
this method of - increasing the quantity of the money and 
wrecking the patriot financial system, they would bring the war 
to an end sooner than by battles. Emissaries even succeeded 
in stealing from the Congress many reams of the paper pre- 
pared for the money and these were used on the English 
presses. 3 

The war had brought about a curious economic condition. 
The burden of the contest had fallen upon the farming class, 
who furnished most of the recruits and were impoverished while 
the townsmen and speculators grew rich. It is by no means 
an exaggeration to say that the Revolution was a farmers' war. 
If an effort were made to increase the army by calling out the 
militia agriculture would suffer, and the food supply of the 
army be reduced by withdrawing so many hands from the 
fields. It was important, Washington thought, to strike a 
balance by having just enough men in the army to keep the war 
going and leave enough in the fields to keep up the resources. 

Clinton was well aware of the weakened condition of the 
patriots, and as soon as spring opened, he strove to make the 
suffering greater. He began vigorous operations for destroy- 

2 Writings of Washington, Ford .edition, vol. 7, p. 159; Heath, 
p. 250. 

Writings of Washington, id., vol. 8, p. 129. 



ing tlie country's resources and increasing his own. He could 
go where lie pleased along the coast; for the little American 
navy, which had been organized at the beginning of the war, 
had sunk into insignificance, and its vessels lay in port where 
they sometimes required a land force to protect them. 4 

Early in May Clinton sent Sir George Collier and General 
Matthews with war-ships and 2500 men to devastate Virginia, 
which had been undisturbed for a long time and had continued 
raising great quantities of tobacco, the export of which, it was 
believed, was the principal support of the credit of the Congress 
with foreign nations. From Virginia also came the most im- 
portant supplies of salted provisions for the support of the 
patriot army. Collier and Matthews sacked and burned Ports- 
mouth, shot down unarmed citizens, and allowed their soldiers 
to ravish delicate and refined women. Suffolk, Kemp's Land- 
ing, Gosport and Tanner's Creek were visited with similar 
devastations, everything burned and leveled with the ground 
and the neighboring plantations desolated and robbed as far 
as the troops could reach. One hundred and thirty ships were 
destroyed and 3000 hogsheads of tobacco. The damage was 
estimated at over 2,000,000 ; which was a very large sum in 
those days; and an immense mass of loot was carried back to 
New York, without the loss of a single man. 

So sudden and thorough was the work that the Virginia 
militia had not a chance to raise a hand ; and the assembly, in 
utter weakness, could only request the governor to "remonstrate 
with the British commander against such a cruel and unprece- 
dented manner of waging war not authorized by any civilized 
nation." 5 

Clinton's method of conquering the South, as it gradually 
revealed itself in the next year or two, was to occupy Georgia 
and South Carolina by means of their seaports, Savannah and 

4 Writings of 'Washington, Ford edition, vol. vii, p. 416 and note. 

5 Stedman, " American War," vol. ii, pp. 136-139 ; Jones, " New York 
in the Revolution," vol. i, p. 296; Lee, Memoirs, vol. i, pp. 231, 232; 
Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, p. 260; J. J. 
Boudinot, "Life of Boudinot," vol. i, pp. 182-185. 



Charleston, and exhaust Virginia by repeated raids. South 
Carolina and Georgia were comparatively easy to occupy be- 
cause each had only a single seaport which gave great control 
of the rest of the country, largely occupied by loyalists. Vir- 
ginia, on the other hand, was the most patriotic and populous 
of the American states, had no controlling seaport, and was so 
cut up by estuaries from Chesapeake Bay that it would be 
impossible to control without a large naval force. It was, how- 
ever, as events proved, very easily raided by naval expedi- 
tions, which could be supplied from their ships and retire to 
them when the raid was finished. As for North Carolina its 
single seaport, Wilmington, gave so little control of the interior, 
where the distances were so vast with such a scattered popu- 
lation, that it could well be left to stand or fall with the rest 
of the South. 

Clinton also had raids in store for the North. The expedi- 
tion of Collier and Matthews had no sooner returned to New 
York with its spoil, than it was joined to other troops and sent 
up the Hudson to check the extensive works by which the pa- 
triots were protecting their strategic position at West Point. 
They were fortifying posts lower down the river, especially at 
Stony Point, and Verplanck Point, in order to protect all ap- 
proaches to the key position as well as to keep open the lower 
part of the river for easy communication between New England 
and the states to the south. 

Clinton commanded in person the troops which on the 30th 
of May went up the west side of the Hudson and took Stony 
Point, without opposition; and cannon were planted on its 
high rocks to command Verplanck on the opposite side, which was 
defended by artillery and seventy Americans. They were in a 
hopeless position, for, besides the fire from Stony Point, General 
Vaughan came up the east side of the Hudson and assailed 
their rear. British garrisons were put in both forts, and Clin- 
ton encamped his force further down at Phillipsburg. Thus 
for the first time during the war the British controlled the 
lower reach of the Hudson and Americans coming from the 
South through New Jersey were obliged to make a detour of 



90 miles through the mountains to cross the Hudson and 
enter New England. 6 

A difference of opinion had arisen among the British gen- 
erals during the winter as to whether the predatory system of 
warfare should be continued, and the question was submitted 
to the Ministry. An answer was promptly returned in April, 
ordering a continuance of the method by all means, and a 
special raid into Connecticut was recommended. The forces of 
the expedition were put under command of Governor Tryon, 
and, supported by a convoy of vessels under Sir George Collier, 
were landed on the 5th of July, near New Haven. 

Part of the force under General Garth went to New Haven, 
which they completely sacked, destroying provisions and goods 
of every sort, plundering the houses of money and plate, and 
wrecking the furniture. Garth had intended to burn the town, 
the next day, but, his men becoming demoralized through 
carousing and the militia appearing in considerable force, he 
was compelled to seek safety on the ships. Tryon had led 
his men to East Haven ; but was also obliged to return to the 
ships before he could accomplish all he had intended. 

The fleet then sailed for Fairfield, where Tryon had full 
swing, plundering the town and laying it in ashes, without 
sparing even the Episcopal -church. A few days afterwards 
Norwalk met the same fate, houses, mills, churches, stores, 
barns and vessels all going up in flames; and Tryon would, 
no doubt, have gone on in this congenial work if he had not been 
recalled by Clinton to help check a movement by Washington 
from West Point. 7 

Gordon, " American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, p. 261 ; Writ- 
ings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. 7, pp. 465-468, 470, 479, 480; 
Stedman, " American War," vol. ii, p. 140. 

T Stedman, *' American War," vol. ii, p. 142 ; Gordon, ** American 
Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, pp. 265-268; Writings of Washington, 
Ford edition, vol. vii, pp. 385 note, 483, 491 note. Judge Jones thought 
that this raid on New Haven, Fairfield and Norwalk was a mistake, 
because two-thirds of the people were Episcopalians and most of them 
favored the royal cause. Jones, "New York in the Revolution/' vol. i, 
pp. 314, 315. 



Washington had decided that Stony Point and Verplanek 
Point could be taken by a night assault. The forts at these 
two points, directly opposite to each other on the Hudson, 
near the entrance to the Highlands, enabled the British to 
overrun the whole fertile region of Westchester County, and 
"Washington entrusted the attack on Stony Point to Wayne and 
the attack on Verplanek to General Howe. 

The rough and ready Wayne in reply to the request said 
that he would storm hell if Washington would prepare the 
plan, Wayne's command had been massacred at Paoli by No- 
Flint Grey's terrible use of the bayonet. Wayne was now in- 
structed by Washington to follow his adversary's method of 
preventing his men firing their muskets, and at midnight of 
the 15th of July, 1779, he led twelve hundred patriots, with 
not a gun loaded, across the causeway at low tide and out on 
Stony Point. They rushed up over the embankments with 
such rapidity that, in spite of the volleys of grape shot, they lost 
only fifteen killed. Plunging in among the British garrison, 
they killed sixty-three with their bayonets, and the rest sur- 

It was one of the most heroic feats of the war, and with 
the garrison now at their mercy, Wayne's men could have 
indulged in unlimited prisoner killing after the manner of the 
British. But, although tempted at first to take revenge for the 
numerous recent British atrocities of this sort, they stayed 
their hands from this crime, and the prisoners were given their 
lives. 8 

Howe on the other side of the river had a more difficult 
task with Verplanek. He had depended on the use of artillery 
which did not arrive in time and the enemy on his approach 
cut down all the bridges. Before he could reconstruct them a 
British force from New York came in on his rear and forced 

Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, p. 268; 
Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vii, pp. 487-490, 492-500; 
Stille*, "Life of Wayne," p. 190; Jones, "New York in the Revolution^ 
vol. i, pp. 311-313; Stedman, "American War," vol, ii, pp. 144-1 4fi. 



him to retreat. So Verplanck was not taken and Stony Point 
could not be held against Clinton 's energy and aggressiveness. 
It was abandoned by the patriots within three or four days ; and 
in the following November Clinton, finding both Verplanck 
and Stony Point of no more use to him, abandoned them in Ms 
turn, demolishing the fortifications and leaving them to be 
rebuilt by the patriots. 

The taking of Stony Point by Wayne had, however, brought 
back Tryon before he completed- his raid in Connecticut, and 
caused Clinton also to abandon large quantities of hay which 
he had had cut under guard of troops along the shores of the 
sound, and was about to transport to New York. 

About a month after the taking of Stony Point, Light- 
Horse Harry Lee, of Virginia, attacked in the same way the 
fort on Paulus Hook, which was a spit or isthmus of sand at 
the present site of Jersey City. He got into the fort and 
took one hundred and fifty-nine prisoners, but was obliged 
instantly to abandon it, because the British were coming to 
the rescue. 9 

These little successes of Stony Point and Paulus Hook were 
by no means without their use in reconciling the patriot party 
to the defensive and inactive policy which the Congress and 
"Washington had been obliged to adopt. But no headway could 
be made by the patriots against Clinton's predatory and wear- 
ing out system. "Washington had been able to do nothing but 
hold the Hudson Highlands and watch him strike where he 
chose. All of Clinton's raids had been heavy, shocking, merci- 
less blows, delivered in districts which had heretofore been 
free from the interference of the war, and where the people 
were enjoying a more or less profitable trade, those districts 
which Washington had described as so far from the seat of war 
and with their people living in such perfect tranquillity, that 
they were inclined to regard the war as, in a manner, at an end. 

Eeeruiting for the patriot army had reached a low ebb. 
Town meetings held for the purpose failed to arouse any 

9 Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. viii, pp. 27, 33, 34. 
Vol. 1116 241 


enthusiasm ; the Congress seemed to be asleep ; and the practice 
of enlisting boys, or children a yard and a half long, as Wash- 
ington called them, had begun. The only activity was in 
dissipation, extravagance, and wild speculation, for which the 
fluctuating prices and sinking paper money gave abundant 
opportunity ; and the expensive banquets and entertainments in 
Philadelphia afforded an extraordinary contrast to the ragged 
army. "How many men are there/' wrote Laurens, "who 
now in secret say, Could I have believed it would come to this, 
I would " 10 

Orators may say that the extreme patriot party grew more 
desperate and determined ; but, unfortunately, it grew smaller. 
It lost the support of thousands who wished it success if it 
could be successful quickly. These people were not willing to 
fall back beyond the Alleghanies; they could not endure de- 
struction of property, annihilation of business of every kind, 
and long years of waiting in the midst of universal devastation 
with nothing at the end of it but to go back under England or, 
as might very well happen, become French colonies. It is 
difficult for us now to realize the deplorable state of the coun- 
try ; devastated and ruined, with the paper currency sunk so 
low that a bushel of corn cost one hundred and fifty dollars 
and a suit of clothes two thousand dollars. 

For many miles round New York and through Long Island 
and along the shores of Connecticut and New Jersey, the 
country was in a state of anarchy in which the reckless ele- 
ment of all parties, loyalists, patriots and British, plundered at 
will. In 1779 the loyalists in New York had been allowed by 
the British Ministry to establish a jurisdiction of their own, 
independent of the Commander-in-chief, and governed by a 
body of % their own choosing called "The Honorable Board of 
Associated Loyalists. " They had armed sloops, schooners and 

* Life of George Heed," pp. 345, 346, 350; Bolton, Private Soldier 
under Washington/* p. 61; Gordon, "American Revolution/' edition 
1788, vol. iii, pp. 223, 283, 285; Writings of Washington, Ford edition, 
vol. vi > p. 483 note; vol. vii, p. 505; Stedman, "American War/' vol. ii, 
p. 153. 



whaleboats which were commissioned as private war vessels 
and given all the plunder they could secure from the patriots. 

They raided the whole region round New York, robbing 
houses, taking prisoners, burning churches, and bringing in 
vast spoil of horses, cattle, hogs, sheep, poultry, furniture, 
slaves, clothes, blankets and linen which were sold at auction in 
New York for their advantage. The bitter feeling against the 
loyalists which soon resulted in such inhuman punishments and 
continued in New York long after the peace, was, no doubt, 
largely aroused by these raids. 

When they could find no patriot property to raid, they 
plundered the loyalists who were still living among the patriots. 
The patriots organized parties to retaliate, and rob the loyalists 
of Long Island. As the demoralization increased with the 
lack of any governmental authority in the region, which gradu- 
ally became known as the neutral ground, the patriot raiders 
joined hands with the Associated Loyalists to furnish informa- 
tion of likely places or persons for both sides to plunder, and 
divide the proceeds. 

Under this arrangement, neither side attacked or fought the 
other; often had friendly meetings and often exchanged three 
cheers when their boats passed each other in the Sound. The 
seizing of important persons as prisoners for exchange, accom- 
panied by a payment somewhat resembling a ransom, was a 
very profitable part of the business, and Judge Jones says lie 
saw receipts for these payments amounting to from thirty to 
one hundred and fifty guineas. 11 

Clinton had now been in command a year ; and if he could 
steadily continue his policy and not take too great risks in 
sending out detachments he might, in time, especially if given 
a few reinforcements, wear down the patriots still faster. 
Hutchinson describes the loyalists and English in London as 
greatly relieved, jubilant and full of hope that the rebellion 
would be put down during this summer of 1779. 12 

a Jones, " New York in the Revolution," vol. i, pp. 300-303; Gordon, 
" American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, p. 496. 

tt " Diary and Letters of Thomas Hutchinson/' vol. ii, pp* 246, 248. 



Washington and the Congress, after much consideration, 
decided that they could do nothing except possibly make an 
attack on Canada at Niagara. But this expedition was aban- 
doned and in place of it an attack was planned upon the 
Indians who seemed to be the only portion of the British army 
that was vulnerable. The massacre by the loyalists and Indians 
in the Wyoming Valley during the previous summer, was un- 
avenged. It had been followed by the Cherry Valley massacre 
and other raiding in Northern Pennsylvania, and -New York;, 
and if the Six Nations of Indians, who were the main force 
in all this very successful devastation, could be broken 1 up, or 
exterminated, it would be a by no means ineffective blow. to 
Clinton's policy and conduct of the war. 

The Six Nations were a powerful and intelligent contingent 
of red men, half civilized and inhabiting that beautiful and 
fertile region in central New York, dotted with large lakes and 
extending from Lake Ontario southward to Tioga Point on the 
Susquehanna. Their situation on the headwaters of the Sus- 
quehanna and Delaware had always given them easy down 
stream communication with Chesapeake Bay, and the South. 
They had numerous towns, many of them consisting of from 
twenty to sixty wooden houses ; and one of them, Genesee, had 
one hundred and twenty-eight houses. They painted their 
dwellings after the manner of white men and had graveyards 
with monuments made of planks. They had orchards of peach 
trees and other fruits and cultivated the land, raising large 
crops of Indian corn. 

General Sullivan was selected to destroy this interesting 
beginning of civilization, and Ms army of over 3000 men, having 
assembled at Wyoming on the 31st of July, set out for the 
North, following the course 'of the Susquehanna River. The 
Indians and loyalists, about 2000 in number, met him on the 
Tioga 'River below NeWtown ; but in a short and decisive battle 
were utterly defeated and Sullivan marched upon their towns. 
We can form-some idea of the extent of this Indian. ciyiKzation; 
when we find Sullivan, reporting that .he had forty 
towns, and that it had required a month to complete this work 



of devastation. Some towns were left untouched for lack of 
time. Apple and peach orchards were girdled and corn and 
vegetables burnt. 

" Wednesday, September 15. This morning the whole army, excepting 
a covering party, were engaged in destroying the corn, beans, potatoes 
and other vegetables, which were in quantity immense and in goodness 
unequalled by any I ever yet saw* Agreeable to a moderate calculation, 
there was not less than two hundred acres, the whole of which was pulled 
and piled up in large heaps, mixed with dry wood taken from the houses, 
and consumed to ashes." (Journal of Captain Adam Hubley.) 

It was a ruthless destruction of the greatest advance in 
civilization that the red men in this country have ever attained, 
and we should have preferred to have had such devastation 
directed at the property of our real enemies, the loyalists and 
English. The Six Nations never recovered. Their organiza- 
tion was destroyed, their empire gone; they had to subsist 
during the following winter on British charity, and their few 
remaining descendants are now sometimes seen selling baskets 
at Saratoga and Richfield Springs. 18 

"Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vii, pp. 307 note, 460- 
463; vol. viii, pp. 0-17 ; Sparks, "Life of General Sullivan;" Bolton, 
"Private Soldier under Washington;" Gordon, "American Revolution," 
edition 1788, vol. iii,.pp. 307, 491; New Jersey Historical Society Pro- 
ceedings, vol. 2, 22-42; vol. 3, second series, 115-116; New Hampshire 
Historical Society Collections, voL 6, 308-335; Winsor, "Handbook of 
the Revolution," p. 206. 



AFTER his failure to save St. Lucia from the British in 
December, 1778, D'Estaing remained inactive all winter and 
spring in Fort Royal Bay, Martinique, watched by the British 
fleet, which had been reinforced, and under command of Ad- 
miral Byron was the equal if not superior to the French. But 
in June, 1779, when Byron was obliged to convoy the great 
fleet of homeward bound merchantmen which assembled at 
that season, D'Estaing had an opportunity to break the monot- 
ony of his defeat and ill luck. On the 6th of June he sent 
Lieutenant Romain with four hundred and fifty men who upon 
landing on St. Vincent were joined by the native Caribs, and 
the garrison of the island surrendered without attempting a 

Soon afterwards five ships of the line under La Motte 
Piquet joined D'Estaing, who with the aid of this reinforce- 
ment planned an expedition against the English island of 
Grenada. He arrived before St. George, the capital of the 
island, on the 2d of July with thirty-four war-ships, and 
10,000 troops, and the next evening assaulted the stronghold 
of the place, an intrenched hill defended by only about seven 
hundred troops, but strongly fortified and difficult of access. 
D'Estaing headed in person his attacking force of about 2000, 
and the first assault failed ; but in the second, the hill was car- 
ried with heavy loss. The governor of the island, Lord Macart- 
ney, had believed the hill impregnable, but the next morning 
when its guns were turned on the fort he declared his willing- 
ness to surrender. 

D'Estaing had hurried the assault so as to secure Granada 
before Admiral Byron could return from convoying the mer- 
chantmen. When Byron returned and heard of the taking of 



St. Vincent he immediately set out to recover it, but on Ms way, 
learning that D'Estaing was attacking Grenada, he changed his 
course to rescue that island, and arrived just as D'Estaing's 
fleet, having completed the conquest and garrisoned the forts, 
was getting under way for sea. 1 

Byron's fleet was weakened by the ships he had left with the 
merchantmen and D'Estaing's fleet had been reinforced; but 
D 'Estaing was content with having taken Grenada, and fought 
cautiously. His ships that were not under way slipped their 
cables and stretched out to sea as rapidly as possible. Sup- 
posing that he was getting under way in great confusion, 
Byron having the weather gage sailed down upon him. But 
Byron's line was in such disorder with ships so far apart that 
D'Estaing concentrated his fire on isolated groups of English 
ships and cut their rigging to pieces. It was the worst defeat 
the English navy had received from the French for nearly a 
hundred years ; and if the French admiral had followed up Ms 
advantage he might have made the defeat a catastrophe and 
annihilated the British fleet. 

Byron was wounded; was obliged to retire to protect his 
transports and crippled ships; and the next morning 
D'Estaing's fleet returned to Grenada. The French fleet lost 
heavily in men from the British practice of firing at the hull, 
while Byron's fleet lost fewer men, but had its masts and 
sails so cut to pieces by the French practice of firing at the 
rigging that it could not be repaired so far from home. 
D'Estaing with his reinforcements was now the superior In 
West India waters, and it was expected that he would take 
other English islands. But with that peculiar shrinking to the 
defensive, characteristic of the French, he took no advantage of 
his opportunities. 2 

1 Gordom, " American devolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, p. 286 ; Sted- 
man, " American War," vol. ii, pp. 91-101. 

"Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, pp. 286, 293; 
Writings, of Washington, Ford edition, vol. viii, p. 32 ; Stedman, " Ameri- 
can War," vol. ii, pp. 91-101; Annual Register, 1779, chap. 10; Clowes, 
"Royal Navy," vol. iii, p. 435. 



The French had taken three English islands, Dominica, 
St. Vincent and Grenada, while the English had taken only 
one, St. Lucia, and had lost the naval superiority in West 
India waters. These successes caused no little rejoicing in 
America; but they were more valuable to France in securing 
West India Islands than to the American patriots, whose cause 
might still fail for want of assistance against the vigorous 
methods of Clinton. Lafayette had gone to France to persuade 
the King to abandon the exclusive West Indian policy and send 
an army and fleet to North America or else the main object of 
the alliance, American independence, would be lost. 

The French Court also learned, from the reports of Gerard, 
who had become minister to the United States, that the patriot 
party was deeply disappointed, not to say disgusted, to find 
that the ally from whom they expected so much had abandoned 
them for the sake of adding to her dominions in the West 
Indies. The French Government accordingly sent to the Con- 
gress a paper of hints or memoranda in which this grave 
question was handled with great delicacy, and with the appear- 
ance of being treated incidentally among other topics. 

The patriots, it was suggested, had not been as well pre- 
pared as they might have been to cooperate with D'Estaing 
when he first arrived on their coast. They must still rely on 
themselves and "exert themselves in their own cause, as his 
Majesty exerts himself for their sake and in their cause which 
he has adopted." All of which was a diplomatic way of say- 
ing, Do not complain so loudly as to offend the dignity of our 
Court and nation ; and having said this, the hints went on, in 
their incidental manner, to admit that the situation was very 
grave, and that the danger of the collapse of the patriot cause 
and of the whole purpose of the alliance was fully appreciated 
in France. Such a situation had not been expected, and after 
surveying the whole field, the only hope or remedy that could 
be seen was in securing the alliance of Spain. The triumvirate 
of France, Spain and America would surely be superior to 
England; but without Spain, affairs were now in such a deli- 



cate equipoise "that a single unlucky event might overthrow 
the balance." 3 

Everything depended, on securing Spain for an ally ; and 
the -French Court -had for some time been exerting the utmost 
efforts to that end. The Congress slowly, and in a dazed and 
surprised way, began to appreciate that nothing but more allies 
could save them, and preparations were made to secure also the 
alliance of. Holland. 

In April, 1779, France and Spain came to an understanding 
that Spain should openly assist to give the Americans inde- 
pendence. In return Gibraltar was to be recovered for Spain 
and France would approve of the exclusion of the Americans 
from all the territory west of the Alleghany Mountains. This 
exclusion west of, the Alleghanies was not guaranteed by France, 
and in the final settlement in 1783 she merely made a formal 
statement of approval without insisting. Spain intended to 
keep the navigation of the Mississippi for herself alone and to 
conquer Florida from England so as to control the Gulf of 

In June, a French fleet, under Count D 'Orvilliers, sailed 
from Brest and before the end of the month had joined forces 
with the Spanish fleet. At the same time the Spanish minister 
in London presented a manifesto to the British Government ac- 
companied with notice of his immediate departure. 

D 'Orvilliers had got away with his ships to join the Span- 
iards by what was considered a lucky accident. The British 
Government had foreseen the new movement and had intended 
to use the channel fleet to block up D 'Orvilliers in the harbor 
of Brest and prevent his junction with the Spaniards in very 
nearly the same way that in the following year a French fleet 
was: locked up in Brest and another in Newport and their 
junction prevented. . But an. adventurer named Nassau had 
planned a freebooting expedition for plunder to the English 
isle of Jersey, and a discovery of his intention stopped Admiral 
Arbuthnot, who had started to convoy a fleet of merchantmen. 

Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, .vol. iii, pp. 273-282; 
Writings of Washington, Ford edition^ vol. vii, pp. 384, 437, 505. 



Admiral Darby was ordered to join him with the ships of the 
line, and the two spent so much time in protecting Jersey from 
what may have been a rather imaginary danger, that D'Orvil- 
liers, seeing the ocean clear of enemies, slipped out and joined 
the Spanish fleet while at the same time reinforcements went to 
D'Estaing in the West Indies. The Spanish minister in Lon- 
don waited until D'Orvilliers* junction with the Spaniards 
was sure to take place, before presenting his manifesto and 
announcing his withdrawal.* 

It had cost the French Court great effort to bring Spain to 
this decided action of hostility. The Spanish Court had pre- 
ferred to act as mediator in the contest, and the year before had 
proposed a plan by which France, America and Great Britain 
should disarm and suspend hostilities for a year, during which 
time the American states should be treated as independent and 
commissioners should meet to settle all differences. 

England now had another war on her hands ; and her down- 
fall and ruin as a great power was predicted. But, with all 
Europe against her, the manner in which she met her increasing 
dangers was another exhibition of the vast extent of her 
wealth and resources. Both houses of Parliament boldly an- 
nounced that this new war with Spain would be prosecuted 
with vigor. They had need of all their boldness, for beneath 
this alliance with Spain was a plan prepared in France to in- 
vade the British island. Great hopes and interest were centred 
in this plan. Franklin had great confidence in it ; and Lafay- 
ette was to take part. A blow at England in her own home, 
the devastation and burning of a few English towns, raiding 
of the country seats of the aristocracy, and plundering their 
silverware as the British had plundered the silverware of the 
southern planters, would be a salutary lesson and suitable 
punishment for the merciless raids and prisoner killing of Clin- 

* Gordon, " American Revolution/' edition 1788, vol. iii, pp. 287-290 ; 
Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. viii, pp. 41 note, 43 note ; Sum- 
ner, '* Financier and Finances of American Revolution," vol. i, pp. 249, 
250: Stedman, "American War/* vol. ii, pp. 156-162. 



ton's troops and the barbarous massacres by the loyalists and 
Indians in America. 

In furtherance of these plans, D'Orvilliers, with the com- 
bined French and Spanish fleets, amounting in all to sixty-six 
ships of the line, sailed for the coast of England and on the 
16th of August arrived off Plymouth. The plans thus far 
were admirable, and their execution perfect. The alliance of 
Spain and her fleet had been obtained by skilful diplomacy, 
without the knowledge of England; the two fleets had joined 
without interference from England ; they were now before Ply- 
mouth without the slightest interference, having passed by the 
large fleet of forty ships of the line of Sir Charles Hardy 
without his knowledge; and Plymouth, with valuable docks 
and naval magazines full of supplies, was utterly without de- 
fences. If ever there was a chance of striking a blow that 
England would remember and of avenging all the atrocities of 
Indians, loyalists, Hessians and prisoner killing regulars, in 
America, here it was in the hands of D'Orvilliers, one of the 
ablest French naval officers of his day. 

But he never landed a soldier and did not even fire a shot 
at the land, where the whole population was in a panic of fear. 
There had not been so much consternation in England since 
the days of the Spanish Armada. He arrived and departed 
almost as harmlessly as if it had been a visit of naval cere- 
mony, taking as his sole prize a British sixty-four which acci- 
dentally sailed into his fleet while going to join Sir Charles 

The cause of this miscarriage was that the French Govern- 
ment had changed its mind. The intention had been to seize 
the Isle of Wight and Spithead as a naval base and anchorage, 
and have the fleets protect the crossing of some 50,000 French 
troops to invade England. But now D 'Orvilliers was instructed 
to change the base to the coast of Cornwall. He protested; 
but before he could receive a reply an easterly storm sprang 
up which blew him below Plymouth, and made it difficult 
for some days- for him to return. He remained for two weeks 
on the coast ranging about Land's End, the Scilly Islands, and 



the Chops of the Channel, with no British 'fleet to disturb him, 
and yet unable to use his great armament of ships, guns and 

When at last Sir Charles Hardy's fleet appeared in sight, 
D'Orvilliers gave chase to it as far as Plymouth, and then 
received orders to abandon the whole expedition. He returned 
to Prance, with a long string of excuses about the storm, the 
sickness among his troops and sailors, ships out of condition, 
and the equinox approaching. 5 

At this same period, a few weeks after the junction of the 
French and Spanish fleets, there sailed from L 'Orient, France, 
the "Bon Homme Richard" of forty guns, accompanied by 
three small vessels, the "Alliance," the "Pallas" and the 
"Vigilance," commanded by Paul Jones, with instructions 
to strike England a blow close at home. 

Jones had served since the beginning of the war in the little 
navy which the Congress had created. He had commanded 
the " Providence," the "Alfred," and the "Ranger," small 
vessels of no greater power than privateers. In the "Ranger" 
he had recently made a descent on the British coast and es- 
caped after inflicting some damage, besides capturing after 
a spirited action the British sloop "Drake." He had allowed 
the "Ranger" to return to America under his second in com- 
mand, and he was stranded in France unable to obtain the 
ship he had expected from the French Government. 

Though famous for his desperate energy as a fighter, Jones 
is described by his contemporaries as a slender man of a rather 
delicate cast of features. He was really an extraordinary 
genius. The son of a Scotch gardener, he had become a most 
accomplished merchant captain, and had a plantation and mill 
in Virginia, which netted him over 1000 a year. He was a 
student of languages and manners, with a passion for work 
and the mastery of details in everything that interested him. 

*" Diary and Letters of Thomas Hutchinson," vol. ii, p. 281; Gordon, 
* American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, p. 290 ; Annual Register, 
1780, chap. 1; Clowes, "Royal Navy," vol. ill, pp. 443-447* 


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He would not allow his seamen to be flogged and on one of his 
voyages threw the cat overboard the first day at sea. He pre- 
ferred, he said, to kill a man who was bad enough to deserve 
a flogging. His vivacity and accomplishments were the delight 
of French ladies, and one of them, the Duchess de Chartres, now 
interceded for him with the King and secured him the com- 
mand of the little squadron, which, however, was not very 
formidable. ' .... 

The "Bon Homme Richard " was an old East India mer- 
chantman altered into a man-of-war." His other ships were 
of weak power and the captain of the " Alliance" was insane. 
He collected all the Americans he could find in French ports ; 
but after his best endeavors his crews were more than half 
foreign, largely French, with mixtures of English and Portu- 
guese. It was not as thoroughly an American expedition as we 
could wish, for Jones himself was a Scotchman, and the ships, 
equipment and money were French. But he hoisted the stars 
and stripes on the "Bon Homme Richard" and devoted him- 
self to the patriot cause. If D'Orvilliers had displayed one- 
tenth of his energy and resolution, he could have brought 
the war to an end at Plymouth in August, 1779. 

Off Flamborough Bead on the coast of 'Scotland, Jones, on 
the 23d of September, fell in with the Baltic fleet of merchant 
vessels which, according to the careful system of commerce 
protection England had adopted, were being convoyed by two 
men-of-war, the "Serapis" and the "Scarborough." The 
"Serapis," which was commanded by Captain -Richard Pear- 
son, quickly placed herself between Jones and the convoy, so 
that all the merchantmen escaped, and the "Serapis" and 
"Bon Homme Richard'* fought one of the most remarkable 
naval battles of history from seven in the evening of the long 
northern daylight 'until almost the small hours- of the morning, 

The "Serapis" was superior in 'build, equipment ancl guns; 
arid 'being more easily handled, ' -for as 'constantly securing adr 
vantageous positions 'until her'i&izzen rigging 'coming in con- 
tact 'with the bowsprit of the "Bon 'Homnie 'Richard, " Jones 
'seized this opportunity' of grs$plitig with his 'enemy; 'as 'his 



last chance. He lashed the two vessels together where they 
lay for hours, the muzzles of the guns almost touching, pour- 
ing broadsides and volleys of musketry into each other and 
hurling hand grenades and combustibles. 

Both ships were at times on fire. The two captains were 
almost equal in desperation ; and there is a tradition that they 
called to each other through the smoke. 

"Have you struck, have you struck?" shouted the captain 
of the "Serapis." 

"Struck! you fool/' replied Jones, "I haven't begun 

to fight yet." 

The "Alliance," under her insane captain, sailed round 
and round, firing broadsides sometimes into the "Serapis" 
and sometimes into the "Bon Homme Richard." But Jones 
was the superior in musketry and grenades; and after the 
"Serapis" had caught fire a number of times, some of her 
powder cartridges exploded, killing nearly every one abaft 
the mainmast and wrecking her guns. She was obliged to 
surrender; but the "Bon Homme Richard" was so damaged 
that, in spite of all efforts with the pumps, she sank two days 

This strange encounter, in which a British war-ship sur- 
rendered to an inferior vessel, which she had crippled 
sufficiently to sink, made Paul Jones one of the most famous 
men in the world, and the idol of Parisian society. He re- 
minded the Duchess de Chartres of his promise to bring her 
a British frigate. It was too large, he said; but he laid at 
her feet the sword of the captain of the "Serapis." 

They told him the English thought Captain Pearson such a 
hero that they had made him a knight. "The next time I meet 
him," said Jones, "I will make him an earl." 

But his brilliant fight with the "Serapis" and the "Scar- 
borough" accomplished little or nothing in a substantial way. 
All solid advantage had been lost by the failure of the expe- 
dition under D'Orvilliers; and the victory of Jones, beyond 
its advantage to himself, could be said to have had only a 
possible moral effect in the elation and encouragement it gave 



the patriots and the French. It had no effect in checking the 
rising tide of English success as D'Orvilliers might have 
done, if he had been allowed to use his opportunity. 

Jones was never able to get to sea again in a way to achieve 
any important results. Delays and mishaps with some or- 
dinary privateering of some of his officers, fill the remainder of 
his career during the Revolution ; and, although he afterwards 
served with distinction in the Russian navy, he would never 
have filled such a large space in history if it had not been for 
that wonderful moonlight battle with the "Serapis."* 

"Stedman, "American War," vol. ii, pp. 163-166; Buell, "Life of 
Paul Jones"; Clowes, "Royal Navy/' vol. iv, pp. 12, 35. 



THE British assailed the American cause from all sides and 
French assistance continued to fail- .In June, 1779, an expe- 
dition under Colonel Francis McLean started from Halifax, 
Xova Scotia, and established a post at Penobscot on the coast 
of Maine for the double purpose of checking patriot intentions 
towards Nova Scotia and to obtain a constant supply -of ship 
timber for the English yards at Halifax. Massachusetts 
claimed the honor of repelling this invasion of her territory 
and fitted out a rather powerful force of twenty armed vessels 
and twenty-four transports carrying troops, which arrived be- 
fore Penobscot on the 25th of July. 

General Lovel, who commanded this Massachusetts arma- 
ment, might have taken the British fort by a vigorous attack 
as soon as he arrived, for the redoubts and other defences were 
not completed. But taking a great many precautions and de- 
laying until the 12th of August, he suddenly found that a 
British squadron was approaching and about to hem him into 
the harbor. The squadron was under command of Sir George 
Collier, who had promptly sailed from Sandy Hook as soon 
as Lovel's expedition against Penobseot was known. 

Lovel drew up his ships in order of battle ; but seeing the 
uselessness of the contest, he abandoned all his armed vessels 
and transports to the enemy, and, taking his troops ashore, 
escaped back to Boston by land as best he could. According to 
some accounts his men, sailors and landsmen, quarrelled as to 
which were to blame for their misfortune, and 50 or 60 were 
killed, while others perished of hunger in the woods. It was 
a bad defeat, a serious blow to the patriots. Several of the 
officers were court-martialed for misconduct; and among them 
Paul Revere, who however was acquitted. The British 



strengthened Penobscot, and made it the best constructed fort 
in America. It became their foothold in New England, like 
New York in the Middle States and Charleston in the South. 
Maine was regarded by the British as conquered and they 
erected it into a province called New Ireland. Penobscot could 
not be taken by the patriots unless they had a naval superiority 
on the coast ; and it remained in the possession of the British 
until the close of the war. 1 

The possession by the British of Savannah and the greater 
part of Georgia was such a serious menace to South Carolina, 
which would evidently be the next object of attack, that in, the 
summer of 1779, when D'Estaing was suddenly successful in 
taking St. Vincent and Granada in the "West Indies, the patriot 
governor of South Carolina, General Lincoln, and the French 
consul at Charleston wrote letters to D'Estaing urging him to 
come to their assistance. He might, they thought, be able to 
break the British hold on Georgia by taking Savannah with 
his fleet. The proposal accorded entirely with his feelings and 
position. He had discretionary orders from his government to 
assist the American patriots if opportunity offered ; the hurri- 
cane season was coming on when nothing could be done in the 
West Indies ; and flushed with his recent success he saw visions 
of adding the conquest of Georgia to his list of victories. 

On the llth of September he arrived suddenly off Georgia 
with twenty sail and took four British war-ships, which, un- 
aware of his approach, had no time to escape. Washington 
wanted him to come north and attack the British in New York. 
He prepared plans and sent numerous letters urging this proj- 
ect as the heaviest blow that could be given to the British 

1 " Diary and Letters of Thomas Hutchinson," vol. ii, pp. 285, 286 ; 
Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, p. 305; Jones. 
"ISTew York in the Revolution," vol. i, pp. 296-299; Writings of Washing- 
ton, Ford edition, vol. viii, pp. 49, 50, 249, 250: vol. ix, p. 215; vol. x. pp. 
59, 195; Gettemy, "The True Story of Paul Revere/' chap. 5; Maine 
Historical Society Collections, vol. vii, pp. 121-126: Winsor, "Handbook 
of the Revolution/' p. 208; Stedman, "American War," vol. ii. pp. 147- 
151; Clowes, " Royal STavy," vol. iv, p. 28; Heath, Memoirs, pp. 217, 273. 
Vol. 1117 257 


occupation in America ; for if New York fell the war would be 
ended. But D'Estaing appears to have thought that he was 
doing rather more than was required in coming so far as 
Georgia, and he had not the slightest intention of going a step 
farther northward. The French islands in the West Indies 
were too important to be jeopardized by over assistance to the 
patriots on the continent. Indeed, the French minister, Gerard, 
had at first claimed that the expedition to Georgia was an ex- 
traordinary service which, by the conditions of the treaty, 
would require a special compensation from the United States. 2 

To help D'Estaing in his attack, the militia of South Caro- 
lina were rapidly collected from all directions and Lincoln led 
them by land against Savannah, while D'Estaing at first seems 
to have intended to assail the town with his ships. The English, 
though taken by surprise, made most desperate and deter- 
mined efforts to defend themselves. The outer battery on 
Tybee Island was abandoned and destroyed. The channel 
was blocked up by sinking in it two war-ships and four trans- 
ports. The whole force was concentrated in the harbor and 
town and men employed day and night to strengthen the lines 
of defence. D'Estaing demanded a surrender, and, if he had 
insisted on immediate response, the English would in all 
probability have given up the town, or if they refused the 
French army could have immediately swept over the half 
finished intrenchments and restored Georgia to the patriots. 
But General Prevost cleverly asked twelve hours for consider- 
ation, and when it was granted used the time to strengthen his 
defences, mount more guns, and obtain a reinforcement of eight 
hundred from Beaufort. The reinforcement was brought by 
Colonel Maitland, his men wading and dragging their boats 
through swamps. 

The garrison thus strengthened gave three cheers and 
General Prevost rejected the demand to surrender. Lincoln 
and D'Estaing had made a great mistake in not cutting off 

2 Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vii, pp. 348, 425-429; 
vol. viii, pp. 51-54, 62, 70, 73-S6, Of>, 98. 104 note, 106, 108, 110 note. 



Maitland 7 s detachment before it reached the town, which in the 
opinion of Lee could readily have been done. As the channel 
was blocked and the French ships could not approach the 
town, more time was lost while troops, cannon, equipment and 
supplies were landed and carried five miles to begin a regular 
siege. The ships meanwhile remained anchored in the ocean 
in a most dangerous position, some of them losing anchors and 
rudders, while their starved, half -naked and bare-footed crews, 
died of the scurvy at the rate of thirty-five a day. 

Parallel trenches were begun on the 23rd of September; and 
on the 4th of October the Americans and French opened a 
cannonade with nine mortars and fifty-three cannon, which was 
continued for four or five days without result. D 'Estaing had 
in the beginning announced that he could remain on shore only 
ten or fifteen days, and, this time having more than elapsed, he 
became impatient when told by the engineers that the siege 
might take a much longer time. This conduct, like his aban- 
donment of Newport the year before, was due, it is said, more 
to the influence of his captains than to his own wishes and 
intention. One of his officers, whose journal has come down 
to us, complains of his excessive ambition and rashness and 
upbraids him for leaving the West Indies unprotected. The 
expedition was, no doubt, very unpopular among the captains, 
and possibly they were unwilling that a military officer should 
win the credit of taking Savannah. Their reasons for abandon- 
ing the attempt were, however, exceedingly plausible if not 
strong. The fleet, they said, was out of repair and should not 
be any longer risked on that coast in the hurricane season ; and 
it was now lying at such a distance from shore that in the 
absence of so many of its men and guns, it might be surprised 
and taken by an inferior British force. 

If these arguments were to be heeded the prudent thing to 
do was to raise the siege and save the fleet which was supposed 
to be in such danger. But D'Estaing, anxious to please both 
the Americans and his own officers, did what, under the circum- 
stances, was a useless waste of life. He resolved on a general 
assault without waiting for the effect of regular and slow 



approaches, and selected the morning of the 9th of October 
for the attack. 

Reckless and useless though it was, the assault was made 
with great gallantry by six hundred continentals, three hundred 
and fifty South Carolina militia and thirty-five hundred 
Frenchmen led in person by General Lincoln and Count 
dTGstaing. They reached the redoubts; an American and a 
French flag were planted on them ; and that romantic cavalry- 
man, Count Pulaski, at the head of two hundred horsemen, 
was riding into the town between two of the redoubts when he 
was shot from his saddle. For nearly an hour the Americans 
and French fought at the intrenchments, while the English cut 
them to pieces with artillery loaded with scrap iron, knives, 
scissors and even chains five or six feet long. The assailants 
then retired with the loss of over seven hundred Frenchmen 
and three hundred continentals. 

Everything in the undertaking had been a mistake; the 
failure to assault at once before the works were strengthened 
and Maitland had arrived, the failure to cut off Maitland, and 
the premature attack against a reinforced garrison instead of 
waiting for a regular siege. But as D'Estaing had met with 
ignominious reverse and failure and was slightly wounded, his 
naval captains were presumably satisfied. The whole French 
force returned to the fleet, which within a few days was scat- 
tered by a violent gale, leaving the patriot cause in a worse 
condition than if the attack on Savannah had never been at- 

3 " The Siege of Savannah as Described in Two Journals of French 
Officers," Albany, 1874; Gordon, "'American Revolution," edition 1788, 
vol. iii, p. 325: "Correspondence of Henry Laurens," p. 161; Lee, 
Memoirs, vol. i, pp. 00-112; Magazine of History, August, 1S78; Gentle- 
man's Magazine, 1770, p. 633; Stedman, "American War," vol. ii, pp. 



To assist the American cause the Spaniards were besieging 
by both land and sea the great British stronghold of Gibraltar. 
But they were making no impression on it; and they never 
succeeded in taking it. In New Orleans Don Gulves, the Span- 
ish governor of Louisiana, under instructions from Madrid, had 
publicly recognized the independence of the United States. 
He then proceeded against some small British settlements on 
the Mississippi which after a nine days' siege he succeeded in 
taking with their five hundred defenders. About the same time 
the Spaniards attacked and scattered the English logwood 
cutters in Honduras. The governor of the English island of 
Jamaica retaliated by sending two expeditions which took by 
storm the Spanish stronghold, Omoa, the key to the Bay of 
Honduras. But the Spaniards soon afterwards retook it. 1 

The patriot party had always expected to cripple England 
by exciting rebellion in Ireland. The documents issued by the 
Congress for that purpose seemed now to be having some result, 
and the Irish had started upon one of those uprisings which 
have been so numerous and hi some respects so useless. They 
formed associations, like those in America, against the use of 
English manufactured goods. Military companies were secretly 
organized under color of defence against French invasion ; and 
these companies numbered, it is said, 50,000 men before the 
British Government was fully aware of what was happening. 

It was a very serious and increasing danger, but the Min- 
istry handled it with great adroitness. Not daring to preeipi- 

1 Gordon, " American Rerolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, pp. 304, 313, 
314, 401, 409; Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. viii, pp. 205, 
294, 295 ; Lee, Memoirs, vol. i, p. 143 -, Stedman, " American War," vol. ii, 
pp. 168-175. 



tate an outbreak by attempting to disband, or break up the 
companies, the Ministry accepted them for their avowed pur- 
pose of defence against invasion, and gained time by shrewdly 
prolonging the negotiation with the leaders over the fresh 
claims for Irish free trade and other rights. 2 

Thus, to their great surprise, the patriot party was discov- 
ering that even with the aid of a French and Spanish alliance 
and rebellion in Ireland, the cause of independence was nearer 
to extermination than it had been without any alliance. Their 
own forces were exhausted and could do nothing more than 
hold the Hudson Highlands ; and the only possible remedy for 
the situation seemed to lie in encouraging their allies to greater 

John Jay, of Xew York, was sent to the Court at Madrid 
and instructed to intimate that, in return for a loan of $5,000,- 
000 and such other aid as would lead to the establishment of 
American independence, Florida would be ceded to Spain. 
Vith Holland we had had a secret understanding ever since 
1778. She could do nothing for us openly, but had shown her 
inclination to be friendly by sheltering Paul Jones's ships at 
the Texel after the fight with the "Serapis," and refusing to 
surrender him to Great Britain as "the pirate Paul Jones of 
Scotland, a rebel subject and a criminal of the state." To 
Holland was accordingly sent Henry Laurens, President of 
the Congress, to negotiate a loan and an open treaty of friend- 
ship and commerce. John Adams was sent to Europe to be 
ready with an ultimatum to be offered to England. It was 
supposed that she might yield to the pressure of the conti- 
nental nations and offer terms of peace. 3 

a Gordon, " American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, pp. 302-400 ; 
Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. viii, p. 218. 

8 Gordon, " American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, pp. 315-323, 
462, 427; 4i Work of John Adams," vol. i, chap. 6; vol. iii, pp. 186, 229, 
259; vol. vii, pp 119, 120, 139; "Diplomatic Correspondence of the Revo- 
lution," vol. iv, p. 339; Rives, "Life of Madison/' vol. i, chaps. 6 and 8; 
Writings of ^ladison, vol. iv, p. 441 ; Jay, " Life of Jay." 



But while these slow moving enterprises of diplomacy were 
crossing the ocean, General Clinton went on with his very 
effective work of conquest. When D'Estaing attacked Savan- 
nah in September, Clinton appears to have thought that it 
might be the prelude to a combined patriot and French attack 
on New York. He accordingly, for the better protection of 
that town, withdrew the garrison from Newport, Ehode Island, 
removing at the same time the numerous loyalist refugees who 
were sent for safety to Long Island which had now become 
almost a loyalist state. 

He had hoped to receive large reinforcements, and in that 
event intended to bring Washington to a general engagement, 
or attack the stronghold of the Hudson Highlands. But, only 
part of the expected reinforcements arriving, he strengthened 
the defences of New York so that he could leave it and conduct 
in person an expedition against South Carolina. He was in 
haste to depart in September or October, but was delayed by a 
call from the governor of Jamaica for assistance and reinforce- 
ments. The reinforcements had just started when they were 
ordered back because news had been received of the arrival of 
D'Estaing's fleet at Savannah. 4 

Finally, on December 26th, 1779, having waited till the 
coast was clear of the French fleet, and having waited one day 
more to celebrate Christmas in true English fashion, he sailed 
from New York in personal command of his southern expedition 
of 7000 men. The rough seas and storms of an unusually 
tempestuous January kept his fleet more than a month on the 
passage to Savannah. He lost several of his transports and 
victuallers; and an ordnance ship sank with all her stores and 
most of the draught and cavalry horses. 

If he had delayed his departure a little longer he might 
have been locked up for the rest of the winter, for the ice 
soon shut in New York harbor and cut off all communication 

* Jones, " NeTT York in the Revolution," vol. i, pp. 315-317; Writings 
of Washington, Ford edition, vol. viii, pp. 39, 40, 61 note, 64 note, 77 note, 
87, 89, 102 and note, 144 note, 145, 146. 



tate an outbreak by attempting to disband, or break up the 
companies, the Ministry accepted them for their avowed pur- 
pose of defence against invasion, and gained time by shrewdly 
prolonging the negotiation with the leaders over the fresh 
claims for Irish free trade and other rights. 2 

Thus, to their great surprise, the patriot party was discov- 
ering that even with the aid of a French and Spanish alliance 
and rebellion in Ireland, the cause of independence was nearer 
to extermination than it had been without any alliance. Their 
own forces were exhausted and could do nothing more than 
hold the Hudson Highlands ; and the only possible remedy for 
the situation seemed to lie in encouraging their allies to greater 

John Jay, of New York, was sent to the Court at Madrid 
and instructed to intimate that, in return for a loan of $5,000,- 
000 and such other aid as would lead to the establishment of 
American independence, Florida would be ceded to Spain. 
With. Holland we had had a secret understanding ever since 
1778. She could do nothing for us openly, but had shown her 
inclination to be friendly by sheltering Paul Jones's ships at 
the Texel after the fight with the "Serapis," and refusing to 
surrender Mm to Great Britain as "the pirate Paul Jones of 
Scotland, a rebel subject and a criminal of the state. " To 
Holland was accordingly sent Henry Laurens, President of 
the Congress, to negotiate a loan and an open treaty of friend- 
ship and commerce. John Adams was sent to Europe to be 
ready with an ultimatum to be offered to England. It was 
supposed that she might yield to the pressure of the conti- 
nental nations and offer terms -of peace. 3 

3 Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, pp. 302-400; 
Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. viii, p. 218. 

8 Gordon, " American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, pp. 315-323, 
462, 427; "Work of John Adams," vol. i, chap. 6; vol. iii, pp. 186, 229, 
259; vol. vii, pp. 119, 120, 139; "Diplomatic Correspondence of the Revo- 
lution," vol. iv, p. 339; Rives, "Life of Madison/' vol. i, chaps. 6 and 8; 
Writings of Madison, vol. iv, p. 441 ; Jay, " Life of Jay." 



But while these slow moving enterprises of diplomacy were 
crossing the ocean, General Clinton went on with his very 
effective work of conquest. When D'Estaing attacked Savan- 
nah in September, Clinton appears to have thought that it 
might be the prelude to a combined patriot and French attack 
on New York. He accordingly, for the better protection of 
that town, withdrew the garrison from Newport, Ehode Island, 
removing at the same time the numerous loyalist refugees who 
were sent for safety to Long Island which had now become 
almost a loyalist state. 

He had hoped to receive large reinforcements, and in that 
event intended to bring Washington to a general engagement, 
or attack the stronghold of the Hudson Highlands. But, only 
part of the expected reinforcements arriving, he strengthened 
the defences of New York so that he could leave it and conduct 
in person an expedition against South Carolina. He was in 
haste to depart in September or October, but was delayed by a 
call from the governor of Jamaica for assistance and reinforce- 
ments. The reinforcements had just started when they were 
ordered back because news had been received of the arrival of 
D'Estaing's fleet at Savannah. 4 

Finally, on December 26th, 1779, having waited till the 
coast was clear of the French fleet, and having waited one day 
more to celebrate Christmas in true English fashion, he sailed 
from New York in personal command of his southern expedition 
of 7000 men. The rough seas and storms of an unusually 
tempestuous January kept his fleet more than a month on the 
passage to Savannah. He lost several of his transports and 
victuallers ; and an ordnance ship sank with all her stores and 
most of the draught and cavalry horses. 

If he had delayed his departure a little longer he might 
have been locked up for the rest of the winter, for the ice 
soon shut in New York harbor and cut oif all communication 

* Jones, "New York in the Revolution," vol. i, pp. 315-317; Writings 
of Washington, Ford edition, vol. viii, pp. 39, 40, 61 note, 64 note, 77 note, 
87, 89, 102 and note, 144 note, 145, 146. 



with, the sea. "The Bay of New York," says Judge Jones, 
44 and thence up the North River to Albany, was mere terra 
firma." The ice was so strong for a long distance out in the 
sound, that British deserters crossed on it from Lloyd's Neck 
to Connecticut. New York and Staten Island were no longer 
protected by water, and it seemed as if the patriots could come 
across the ice with their heaviest artillery and sweep everything 
before them. The greatest exertions were made to protect the 
town by new defences, and all the citizens were forced to arms 
or labor. 

But Washington's army was suffering more from the cold 
and snow than the British, and was so reduced in numbers 
and so demoralized by starvation and disputes over enlistments 
and inequality of bounty, that the troops in order to save their 
lives, plundered the inhabitants. An ' ineffectual attack by 
Stirling on the loyalists of Staten Island was all that was 
attempted. 5 

After reaching Savannah Clinton took his army on the llth 
of February to Johns Island, thirty miles from Charleston, and 
began to carry out a most thorough and systematic plan for 
taking the capital of South Carolina. His methods were so 
intelligent and practical, that they furnish an additional reason 
for believing that his failure to take Charleston four years 
before must have been due to misunderstandings with Sir Peter 
Parker, rather than to any deficiency in himself. 

He now began his proceedings by blockading the entrance 
of the harbor so that if his attack on the land side succeeded 
there could be no escape for the patriots by sea. He was evi- 
dently determined that Charleston should not again elude him. 
He took the utmost precautions and moved with what seemed 
unnecessary slowness and deliberation. But his object in this 

5 Gordon, "American Kevolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, p. 361; 
Jones, " New York in the Kevolution," vol. i, pp. 320-323, 318; Writings 
of Washington, Ford edition, vol. viii, pp. 155-166, 180, 181, 183, 187,213, 
219; "Life of Colonel Hanger," pp. 173, 174; Stedman, "American 
War," vol. ii, pp. 233, 239. 



may have been to encourage the patriots to collect as many 
troops as possible in Charleston where he could more easily 
surround and take them. 

He began his land operations by establishing posts to the 
south and southeast of the town to protect his communications 
with the sea, and February and most of March were spent in 
this work. The main defences of the town were stretched 
across the narrow neck of land formed by the Ashley and 
Cooper rivers at the confluence of which the town was situated. 
On the 29th of March, some of his troops crossed the Ashley 
River and encamped in the neck between the two rivers and 
about 3000 yards from the defences of the town. 

These defences had been made with great care under the 
direction of General Lincoln. The outer defence was an ab- 
atis of felled trees ; behind this was a wet ditch with fortifica- 
tions at its ends so constructed as to rake the ditch from one 
end to the other; and between the ditch and the main line of 
intrenchments deep holes were dug short distances apart. In 
the middle of the whole line a strong citadel was erected. But 
the patriot cause had sunk so low in the South since the conquest 
of Georgia and all the classes of loyalism had so greatly in- 
creased, that, with his utmost exertions, Lincoln, though hoping 
for 10,000, had been able to collect only twenty-two hundred 
militia besides sailors in the batteries, and a large part of these 
came from North Carolina and Virginia. 

Clinton's intention of taking Charleston had been sus- 
pected in November, and a patriot naval force of nine sail 
had been collected in the harbor including Paul Jones's ship, 
the "Ranger." These war vessels had intended to fight the 
enemy at the bar where the English ships would have to take 
out their guns in order to float across. But it was found that 
the patriot vessels drew so much water that they could not 
go near enough to the bar, which the British crossed in per- 
fect safety on the 8th of April. The nine patriot vessels 
then fell back to the town. The crews and guns of all 
except the "Ranger" were taken out and put in the batteries 



on shore, some of the ships were stationed in the Cooper 
Biver, and the rest with some hulks sunk across the mouth of 
it to prevent the British from entering. 

The harbor being lost it was the opinion of Washington and 
other military men that the town was indefensible, because it 
could be locked up on both the land and the sea side and 
starved into submission. It would probably have been better 
if Lincoln had evacuated it as St. Glair evacuated Ticonderoga. 
He could still escape with his troops into the open country, 
and he would, in that case, save his troops, and might use 
them to prevent Clinton taking possession of the state. Hold- 
ing the town was merely collecting patriots in a convenient 
place for surrender to the British. But Charleston had once 
escaped through the incompetence of British officers, and the 
South Carolina patriots thought it would now be saved by a 
miracle. Troops from Virginia, they thought, would come 
to their assistance. Many also believed that this was the last 
stand of patriotism in the South, and that it should be fought 
out to the end. Lincoln was persuaded to remain against 
his better judgment with the almost sure prospect of losing 
both troops and town. He was, as Harry Lee said, an excel- 
lent man, brave and prudent, much respected by Washington, 
but not a consummate soldier. 6 

On the 9th of April, the British fleet of seven war vessels 
sailed by Fort Moultrie under a severe fire which did some 
damage and killed and wounded 27 sailors. But the injuries 
were slight and the fleet anchored in good condition within 
cannon shot of Charleston. This successful running of the 
batteries of Fort Moultrie seemed to show that Sir Peter Par- 
ker could have followed the same course four years before, 
instead of anchoring in front of the fort and giving it a 
chance to pound his ships to pieces. 

On the 10th of April, the day after this successful entrance 

6 Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. viii, pp. 251, 252; "The 
Siege of Charleston," p. 10; Lee, Memoirs, vol. i, p. 75. 



of the British fleet into the harbor, Clinton had completed his 
first parallel of approach on the land side and summoned the 
town to surrender. The summons was refused and two days 
afterwards the British opened fire, which was continued until 
the 20th with replying shots from the Americans, while the 
second British parallel was being dug. 

The investment of the town was not . complete, and the 
Americans had a way out to the north of the Cooper River 
on the neck between that river and the Santee. They pro- 
tected this communication by batteries and cavalry under 
Colonel Washington, and by this means seven hundred conti- 
nentals from the North entered the town. But this reinforce- 
ment was offset by a like number of North Carolina militia, who 
went home. True to the habit of militiamen, their time of 
service having expired, neither threats, nor arguments, nor the 
dire straits of the town could keep them. 

The besieging army had an energetic young officer named 
Tarleton, who some years before had taken part in the surprise 
and capture of General Lee in New Jersey. He had now risen 
to the rank of colonel and was in command of the cavalry who 
lost their horses on the voyage to Savannah. He quickly ob- 
tained fresh horses in South Carolina, and had already attacked 
and scattered several small bodies of the militia who were trying 
to keep open the northern communication. On the 14th of 
April, he surprised at night at Monks Corner the main body of 
the patriot cavalry, which kept open the communication. Their 
horses were ready saddled and bridled, and their pickets warned 
them of Tarleton ? s approach, when he was a mile away. But 
so rapid was his charge, that he cut them to pieces and scat- 
tered the survivors in the woods and swamps before they could 
make ready to defend themselves. 

The main body of the British instantly followed up this 
success by occupying the neck between the Cooper and the 
Santee rivers, and closing the northern communication. A day 
or two afterwards three thousand reinforcements arrived from 
New York ; and these were used to complete the investment and 



shut in the garrison from 1 every avenue of escape on the land 

The only hope that remained to the garrison was that 
reinforcements might arrive from the North and raise the siege. 
To secure time for this, Lincoln offered to capitulate if his 
army was allowed to withdraw and security given for the safety 
of the property and people of the town. These terms were, of 
course, rejected by Clinton, and a day or two afterwards the 
patriots made a sally on a British working party. Most of the 
garrison had been withdrawn from Fort Moultrie to be used in 
defence of the town and on the 6th of May Fort Moultrie sur- 
rendered. On the same day Clinton completed his third paral- 
lel close to the town's defences, and by running a tap to the 
ditch drew most of the water from it. At the same time 
Tarleton surprised the remains of the patriot cavalry as they 
were crossing Launeau's Ferry, and, charging in his dashing 
style, again cut them to pieces and scattered the survivors in 
the swamps. 

The garrison had now only a week's fresh provisions and 
negotiations for a surrender were begun. The civil authori- 
ties and the citizens had in the beginning opposed the aban- 
donment of the town, and they were now stubbornly opposed 
to a surrender unless Clinton would agree that those who 
did not choose to submit to the British Government should have 
leave to sell their estates and quit the country. This would 
seem to indicate that the patriots believed that if Charleston 
fell the Eevolution would be over in the South, and that the 
Carolinas and Georgia would become a permanent British pos- 
session like Canada in the North. 

Clinton rejected the terms and ordered the bombardment of 
the town to begin. A heavy fire from cannon, mortars and 
small arms at close range was begun on the 8th of May and 
continued for three days. The Hessian Chasseurs showed un- 
expected skill in using their rifles in the American fashion and 
picked off any one who showed his head above the fortifications. 
The garrison replied vigorously; but at the end of the three 
days most of their guns were dismounted or silenced for want 



of ammunition, the militia had thrown down their arms, and 
the citizens were willing to accept any terms of surrender. The 
articles were signed on the 12th of May and could not be called 
severe. The militia were allowed to go home on parole; the 
other troops were prisoners of war, and the citizens of the town 
prisoners on parole. Whether the patriot citizens should be 
given time to sell their property and leave the country was left 
for future discussion. 7 

7 Stedman } "American War," vol. ii, pp. 176-188; Gordon, "Ameri- 
can Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, p. 346; Moultrie's Memoirs, vol. ii, 
p. 84; Ramsay's "Revolution in South Carolina," vol. ii, p. 45; Tarleton's 
Narrative; Johnson's Traditions, p. 259; Munsell, " Siege of Charleston; " 
Simms' "South Carolina in the Revolution;" Rochambeau's Memoirs, 
edition 1824, vol. i, pp. 241-243; Writings of Washington, Ford edition, 
vol. viii, p. 264 note; vol. ix, pp. 286, 287; G. W. Greene, " Life of General 
Greene," vol. iii, p. 10; Lee, Memoirs, vol. i, pp. 115-142; Annual 
Register, 1780, chap. 10; Bowen, "Life of General Lincoln." 



THE fall of Charleston was a heavy blow to the patriot 
cause. It was not a large town; for its population at that 
time is said to have been only 9000 whites and 5000 negroes. 
But it was the largest town of that region; the commercial 
and intellectual capital of the South as Boston was of New 
England. It was famous for its handsome buildings, 
abundant commerce, refinement and wealth, and the fondness 
of its people for pleasure and display. The picturesqueness 
of slavery, the quaint humor of the slaves, the romantic life 
of the planters who lived on their great estates, sent their 
sons to England to be educated, and visited Charleston for 
social intercourse, music and horse racing, had given the town a 
peculiar character which will never again be seen in America. 
Its fall seemed to indicate that the South had gone British 
and loyalist. 1 

Lincoln's conduct in refusing to abandon the town while 
he had a chance was one of the worst mistakes that was made 
on the patriot side during the war. It gave the British in- 
stant control of the whole of Georgia and South Carolina, 
with good prospects of gaining North Carolina ; for the army 
that Lincoln lost was practically the whole southern army. 
If it had been taken out of the town the scattered militia and 
patriot bands might have rallied to it and created a force which 
might have saved the interior of the country. Moreover, hun- 
dreds of civilians, the leaders of the patriot party in the 
South, were surrendered with the army. They were paroled, 
imprisoned, transported to Florida or otherwise rendered use- 

1 G. W. Greene, "Life of General Greene," vol. ill, p. 10; Lee, 
Memoirs, vol. i, p. 124; Historical HaQazine, November, 1865. 



less to the cause. Bereft of the patriot army and patriot 
leaders the country was not only more easily conquered 
by the British and loyalists, but relapsed into a long period 
of anarchy and murderous feuds which have left their 
mark on southern life to this day. St. Glair by abandoning 
Tieonderoga overwhelmed himself with popular abuse, but 
saved an army which three months afterwards took part in 
defeating Burgoyne. Lincoln, by persisting in a hopeless de- 
fence saved himself from popular clamor, but did his country 
an ill turn. 

It has been said that Charleston might have been saved 
if the patriots throughout the State and in North Carolina had 
aroused themselves and come in behind the British in the 
trenches. But there were comparatively few patriots left 
in the back districts of the Carolinas and those few were scat- 
tered and unorganized. The only thing that could by any 
possibility have saved the town was some delay, which would 
have prolonged the siege, until the hot weather and sickly season 
began to decimate Clinton's troops, or until the arrival of the 
French fleet under De Ternay, with 6000 troops under Eoeham- 
beau. They were on the ocean, and intended to raise the siege. 
But when near the Bermudas the French Admiral learned from 
a captured British vessel that the town had surrendered and 
he went northward to Rhode Island. 

The French were again unlucky; and Clinton's method of 
reducing the rest of South Carolina to submission was an 
earnest that patriotism would soon be exterminated. Detach- 
ments from his large force were spread out through the state ; 
and an incident occurred which shows what could be accom- 
plished by thoroughness in pursuit. A Virginia patriot corps 
of three hundred men commanded by Colonel Buford was 
marching down to the relief of Charleston, but hearing of the 
surrender retreated northward. Colonel Tarleton pursued 
and, although they had a long start, he caught up with them 
at the Waxhaws. Nearly the whole command was destroyed. 
Tarleton 's dragoons put to death and wounded nearly two hun- 



dred of the prisoners on the excuse that they believed that their 
own commander had fallen. 2 

Clinton left Lord Cornwallis with four thousand men in 
charge of South Carolina, and his lordship inaugurated a 
most vigorous system of compelling the inhabitants to take 
the British oath of allegiance, and also tried to compel them 
to take part in re-establishing and maintaining the royal 
supremacy. Thousands of patriots took the oath of allegiance, 
intending to break it, as most of them did, at the first oppor- 
tunity. They considered the oath as forced upon them to 
save their lives and property, and therefore not binding on 
their consciences. Other patriots took refuge in the swamps 
and forests of the interior, very much as Washington had 
feared that the whole patriot party might be obliged to do. 

On the 3rd of June Cornwallis wrote to Clinton that the 
recent dispersion of a party of rebels on the northwest border 
of the province had put an end to all resistance in South 
Carolina, and he described the sort of military government he 
was instituting. 

" As the different districts submitted I, with all the dispatch in my 
power, formed them into militia and appointed field officers according to 
the old divisions of the province. I invested those officers with civil as 
well as military power, as the most effectual means of preserving order 
and re-establishing the king's authority in this country." (B. 3f. Stevens, 
" Clinton-Cornwallis Controversy/ 3 vol. i, p. 221.) 

He goes on to describe how he divided the militia into 
classes according to age and property; and this militia was 
composed of the loyalists, who evidently were numerous. He 
counted among loyalists and admitted to the militia, those 
persons "whose behavior had always been moderate." His 
success and the great number of loyalists are shown when 

3 Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, p. 360; 
Stedman, "American War," vol. ii, p. 193; Tarleton, Narrative, pp. 31, 
32; Lee, Memoirs, vol. i, pp. 148-151; Johnson, "Life of Greene," vol. i, 
pp. 280, 286. 



we find that in the district of Ninety-Six alone, he raised four 
thousand of these militia. 3 

The patriot militia and civil officers, magistrates, coun- 
cillors and legislators, were sent on their parole to the islands 
on the coast. The ordinary patriots, and all who were no%ri- 
ously disaffected to England, were disarmed and ord^d fc to 
remain at home and furnish wagons and horses for the^&r?ftsh 
army. ***' 

These arrangements are interesting as showing the methods 
that Englishmen thought necessary at that time to pacify an 
American State and reduce it to a colony. Cornwallis was, 
however, severely criticised by northern loyalists for not re- 
storing South Carolina to British rule in the same way that 
Georgia was restored by opening the courts of justice, restor- 
ing the old colonial legislature and all British civil rights, and 
appointing a governor and civil officers down to justices of 
the peace. The severe military method of Cornwallis, accom- 
panied by plunder and confiscation, had the effect, it was said, 
of alienating from the British interest all the hesitating class 
and many loyalists and preventing the easy conquest of North 
Carolina and Virginia. But the population of Georgia was so 
small and so largely loyalist, that it may have been an easy 
matter. to restore civil rights at once, while the larger popula- 
tion and the proportionally larger patriot element in South 
Carolina may have rendered an immediate restoration of civil 
rights impossible.* 

There was for a long time a frightful scene of anarchy 
and confusion in South Carolina; plundering, murdering and 
confiscating; the patriots retaliating as best they could; and 
the British officers, privates and camp followers growing rich. 
The plundering of the country was reduced to a system, with 
regular commissaries appointed to take charge of the spoil 
and sell it for the benefit of the army; and although the prices 

8 B. F. Stevens, " Clinton-Cornwallis Controversy/' vol. i, p. 242. 
4 Stedman, " American War," vol. ii, pp. 190-200; Jones, " New York 
in the Revolution," vol. i, p. 354; Lee, Memoirs, vol. i, pp. 71, 72. 
Vol.11 18 273 


were low, yet the dividend of a major-general under this sys- 
tem is said to have been over 4000. 

Besides this, the officers and men plundered on their own 
account; and an officer's profits in this way were apt to be 
more than he drew in the public dividend. They loaded ves- 
sels with rice and slaves and sent them to the West Indies. 
Over 2000 negroes are said to have been shipped off in one 

It had been announced by proclamation in the mpst broad 
and liberal English manner, that, if the people would submit, 
a general pardon, with certain exceptions, would be issued 
for past offences and the state would be restored to all the 
rights and immunities of free British government including 
the American claim of no taxation without representation. 
But before this condition of ideal felicity could be reached, 
there was, it seems, terrible work to be done to break the spirit 
of the patriots and enable them to appreciate the blessings 
that were offered them. 

All non-combatants who would not turn loyalist were im- 
pressed, and sometimes shot in their own houses in the presence 
of their wives and children ; those who broke the oath of alle- 
giance were hanged; hundreds were impressed and forced to 
serve in British ships and regiments; and the prison ships 
were such pest houses that three-fourths of those confined in 
them were quickly destroyed. The devastation of plantations 
and homes was so complete that the line of a British raid 
could be traced by the groups of women and children, once of 
ample fortune, sitting by fires in the woods. All this was 
done under instructions from the Ministry sent through Ger- 
main and carried out by Lord Cornwallis. He was a Whig, had 
voted against the Stamp Act, but, now that he was serv- 
ing under Clinton with explicit instructions from the Minis- 
try, had completely changed his character. 5 

It was at this time, during the summer of 1780, that the 

Gordon, "American Bevohition," edition 1788, vol. Hi, pp. 382-389; 
Draper, "King's Mountain and Its Heroes," pp. 45-47. 



patriots, who would not take the oath of allegiance, and had 
retreated to the swamps and mountains of the interior, main- 
tained, tinder Marion, Sumter, Piekens, and Williams, that 
partisan warfare which became so famous. Marion, the most 
popular of these heroes, was of Huguenot origin, and is de- 
scribed as a small, hardy, taciturn man, acclimated to swamps 
and fevers, a lover of horses, a hard rider, inspired with all 
the generosity, chivalry and humanity towards enemies, which 
was so dear to the southern heart ; and of an intelligence that 
seemed to fit him for higher military command than he ever 

The number of men commanded by these rovers was insig- 
nificant. Their attacking parties were as small as twenty and 
seldom over one hundred. But the suddenness of their 
appearance, the fury of their attack, and the swiftness 
and secrecy of their flight were appalling to European 
soldiers. No small British outpost or settlement of loyalists 
was safe from them; and they would even attack a whole 
column upon the march, slash about with their swords made 
of old saw blades, shoot pewter bullets from their pistols, and 
escape. In Sumter 's attack on the Prince of "Wales' regi- 
ment and a party of loyalists which he nearly annihilated, 
his men had only ten bullets apiece, and fought the last part 
of the engagement with the arms and ammunition taken from 
the enemy. 6 

Such successful guerilla warfare shows that there was good 
reason for Burke 's warning and the anxiety of the Ministry, 
that the patriot party, if driven beyond the AUeghanies, would 
become a perpetual terror to British authority on the coast. 

Otho Williams, in describing the first occasion when he saw 
Marion's men, said, "their number did not exceed twenty men 
and boys, some white, some black, and all mounted; but most 

Mies, " Principles and Acts of the Revolution," edition 1876, p. 389; 
Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, pp. 427, 428, 455, 
457; Lee, Memoirs, vol. i, p. 164. In Simms' "Life of Marion" will be 
found good descriptions of the confusion in South Carolina at this period. 



of them miserably equipped; their appearance was, in fact, 
so burlesque that it was with much difficulty the diversion of 
the regular soldiery was restrained/ ' 7 Their methods .and 
the conditions in South Carolina are quite well shown in 
some extracts from Marion's letters. 

" On September the 4th, marched with 53 to attack a body of 200 
tories who intended to surprise me; surprised a party of 45, killed and 
wounded all but fifteen, who escaped: met and attacked the main body, 
and put them to flight, though they had 200. men. . . . Marched to Black 
Mingo Sept. 24th, where was a guard of 60 men of the militia : attacked 
them on the 28th: killed three, wounded and took 13 prisoners. 'So 
many of my men were desirous of seeing their wives and families which 
have been burnt out, that I found it necessary to retreat the next morn- 
ing." (Gordon, vol. iii, p. 455.) 

His men were not necessarily patriots, but desperate char- 
acters who would fight on any side for plunder. "Many who 
fought with me," he said, "I am obliged to fight against," 
and again, "Many of my people have left me and gone over 
to the enemy." 

In England the news of the fall of Charleston, the capital 
city of the South, was received with great rejoicing. It came 
at a most opportune time, shortly after the suppression of the 
Lord George Gordon anti-Catholic riots. These riots had 
originated in that dread of popish domination which has so 
frequently seized the English population, and in the present 
instance it was stimulated by an apparent increase of Roman 
Catholics and an Act of Parliament passed in May for re- 
lieving certain of. their disabilities. Such rioting has never 
been known in England before or since. The rioters visited 
all the jails in London, broke' them open, let the prisoners loose, 
'and burnt several of the jails to the ground. They destroyed 
a Roman Catholic chapel and school. They sacked the houses 
of Sir George Saville and of Justice Fielding, carrying 'the 
furniture out into the street and burning it. In the same way 
they carried out of Lord Mansfield's house his furniture, inval- 
uable papers, fine library and pictures, burned all in the street 

>f Johnson, " Life of General Greene,'" -vol. i, p. '488. * 

W;&tf null 


and then set the house on fire. The Bank of England narrowly 
escaped destruction ; for the Scotch troops which defended it 
were supposed to be strongly in sympathy with the Protestant 

Parliament was overawed and adjourned. Troops were 
poured into the city oh the 7th of June, and yet that evening 
the rioters burnt both the Fleet Prison and the King's' Bench 
Prison as well as the distilleries and dwellings of Mr. Lang- 
dale, a Roman Catholic, and were kept from the Bank of 
England only by the fire' of the soldiers. It was the most 
terrible night London has ever known. At one time the city 
was on fire in thirty-six places, which with the fierce shouts 
of. the rioters, the firing of the troops and the groans of the 
dying, made a scene not soon to be -forgotten. 

When morning came nearly 500 rioters had been killed or 
wounded and the outburst was over. But a French invasion, 
of which the English had always lived in such fear, could not 
have been worse than this assault which the English lower 
and middle classes inflicted on their own capital city. The 
next day London looked like a stormed and sacked town. All 
business, public and private, had ceased. Houses, shops and 
public offices were closed. Troops guarded the streets among 
the smoking ruins and silence reigned in the busiest thorough- 
fares. 8 

If it had happened among a distant people it would have 
been an act of barbarism, a proof of incapacity for civiliza- 
tion and self-government. It was a striking comment on the 
nation that was attempting to rule India, Ireland and Amer- 
ica in the interests of benevolence and good order ; and coupled 
with the Wilkes riots of a few years before, it raised some 
serious reflections in even the stanchest Tory breast. But 
when a week after that terrible night, when Lord .George 
Gordon had been landed in the Tower, the news of the glorious 
victory at Charleston was received, accompanied by descrip- 
tions of deeds of true British valor, there was a revulsion of 

Gordon, n American [Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, pp. 417-424. 



fresh hope, joy and enthusiasm. The empire still lived; its 
magic was still potent for conquest; and the protecting arm 
of British trade and profit would finally encircle all the Amer- 
ican states. 

In America there was, of course, renewed depression and 
gloom, and, even before news of the fall of Charleston had 
arrived, Washington's letters had again begun to speak of 
" inevitable ruin" unless there was some speedy change in 
the situation. In May, although good weather had arrived, 
there was another starvation period, of such severity that two 
regiments mutinied.* 

- Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. viii, pp. 250, 257, 261 
and note, 285, 288, 291, 293, 294. 



IN June, 1780, after the fall of Charleston was well known 
in the North, a detachment of five thousand men from the Brit- 
ish army in New York invaded New Jersey, under command of 
Knyphausen, Robertson and Tryon. They advanced as far as 
Elizabeth and Connecticut Farms, where one of the regulars 
shot a Mrs. James Caldwell, the wife of the Presbyterian minis- 
ter of Elizabeth, while she was sitting in her house with her 
children. The house with about a dozen others and the Presby- 
terian church were then burnt to the ground. The deed was 
said to have been an act of vengeance for the pronounced 
patriotism of Caldwell, who had been very active in inciting the 
people of New Jersey to resistance. But the killing of Mrs. 
Caldwell was said by the loyalists to have been accidental, the 
result of a random shot. 

Nothing more was attempted by the expedition, which 
shortly returned to Elizabeth. Its object was. to test the 
effect of the fall of Charleston, and the accuracy of information 
received by the British, that Washington's army was mutinous 
and ready to desert, and the people of New Jersey weary of the 
contest and willing to accept British rule. The patriot army 
was undoubtedly mutinous in two regiments ; but it arose from 
suffering and starvation not from disaffection to the cause. 
The patriots of New Jersey were also suffering from raids, war- 
fare and the depredations of their own troops, but were not 
ready to give up the contest. 

About two weeks afterwards, when Clinton returned from 
the South, he appears to have thought that the experiment had 
not been sufficiently well tried. He invaded New Jersey in 
heavy force, while some of his troops threatened West Point, 



A large part of Washington's army was immediately moved 
from the neighborhood of Morristown to West Point and Greene 
moved down to Springfield with- about a thousand men to check 
the invasion in New Jersey. Greene's troops, on the 23rd of 
June, protected Springfield for a considerable time, in the- 
most gallant manner, at the bridge in front of the town; 
and inflicted heavy loss upon the overwhelmingly superior 
British force. But they were finally obliged to retreat behind 
the town to some hills, to which the British,. after their experi- 
ence at the bridge, were disinclined to follow them. Clinton 
made no attempt to reach Morristown or the patriot magazines ; 
but contented himself with burning Springfield and then re- 
turned to Elizabeth whence shortly after he passed over to. 
Staten Island. 1 

The remarkable success with which his opponent, Greene,, 
had handled a small force against superior numbers greatly 
increased that officer 7 s reputation, already deservedly high since 
the Battle of Germantown. He now began to appear as one 
of the most accomplished men that had been produced by the 
war. His little Battle of Springfield, the unequalled ardor and 
discipline of his troops, and the total absence of the expected 
despondency in the patriot party as a result of the fall of 
Charleston were commented upon by Burke, in his usual 
happy manner, when he wrote the Annual ..Register for that 

"The matter of fact was, that the loss of Charles-Town produced 
a directly contrary effect to that which might have been expected. For 
instead of depressing and sinking the minds of the people, to seek for 
security by any means, and to sue for peace upon any terms, the loss 
heing now come home to every man's., feelings, and the danger to his door, 
they were at once awakened to a vigor of exertion, scarcely to be expected 
in the circumstances." (Annual Register, 1781, chap, ii, pp. 18, 19.) 

1 Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. .iii, pp. 368-374; 
Writings of Washington,. Ford .edition, vol. viii, pp. 309, 310 note, 311, 
313 note,. 321 note; J. J. Boudinot, "Life of Boudinot," vol. i,'pp. 187-189; 
Jftoore*s Diary, vol.* ii, p. '285 ; 'Stedman, " American 'War', 1 " vol. ii, p. 240. 



It -was another instance to show that the loyalist party; 
which England was always expecting to rise and rule the country 
for her, was so largely coraposed of. neutrals, indifferents, and 
mere money-makers, that no number of British victories would 
arouse it. The patriots on the other hand, were determined, as 
Greene afterwards said, "to defend themselves from age to 
age rather than give up their independence." 

England, however, could now afford to be well satisfied with 
conditions in the South, and with the work of her navy during 
the first six months of 1780. In January one of her fleets had 
captured and burnt a large part of a convoy and three French 
men-of-war. In March, a running fight between a French and 
an English squadron off Monte Cristi left the French in a 
rather shattered condition, although they saved their convoy. 

A fresh admiral, George Brydges Rodney, soon to become 
one of the famous naval commanders of England, had now in 
this year, 1780, taken charge of Great Britain's fleets in West 
India waters. He was passed sixty years old, gouty, irritable, 
but exacting and severe in discipline. He had been in the ser- 
vice from childhood, and, though known to be capable, had 
never distinguished himself. "Throughout his whole life," 
says one of his biographers, "two passions the love of women 
and of play carried him into many excesses." 2 Like not a 
few officers of the army and navy, he had for a long time 
been a member of Parliament; at first as the nominee of a 
pofcket borough; but at last, when thrown upon his own 
resources, he secured his election for Northampton by the 
expenditure of 30,000. This, with his love of play, afterwards 
reduced him to bankruptcy. He fled to France in 1775 to avoid 
his creditors ; and it was not until 1778 that a friendly loan 
by the Marechal de Biron enabled him to return to the British 

The corrupt administration of 'the navy by Lord Sandwich; 
a 'violent Tory, was driving the best officers into .retirement. 
"Whigs or moderate Tories, like Howe, Barrington and Keppel^ 

2 English Dictionary .:of Nat. Biog., .vol. lix, p. 



refused high command, because their honor, they said, was not 
safe under such a chief. Rodney, though a strong Tory, was 
quarrelling with Sandwich; but was compelled by poverty to 
serve under him. 

Kodney was now sent to the relief of Gibraltar which 
was reduced to considerable distress by the siege of the 
Spaniards. He was lucky enough, when only a few days out, 
to capture five French war-ships with a convoy of fifteen 
merchantmen containing ample supplies of provisions, which 
he sent to the garrison at Gibraltar. That garrison continued 
to hold out against all the devices of the Spaniards, and it 
remained the British bulwark at the entrance of the 

Continuing on his cruise, Rodney on the 16th of January 
encountered an inferior Spanish squadron off Cape St. Vin- 
cent and fought a rather memorable action with it, which 
lasted until two o'clock in the morning of a dark stormy night. 
Besides the combined terrors of war and tempest, the ships 
were in constant danger of the shoals of St. Lucas upon which 
one of the vessels was lost. A Spanish vessel of seventy guns 
and six hundred men blew up and sank with all on board. 
But the Spanish, in spite of heavy losses and inferior force, 
fought with the greatest heroism and four of their ships 
escaped. The remaining seven were either taken or lost and 
the admiral made a prisoner. 

Rodney pressed on to the West Indies in search of other 
victories, and on the 17th of April, succeeded in bringing 
to action a French fleet under Admiral de Guichen. Both 
fleets were stretched out in line. The British had the weather 
gage and sailed down upon the enemy to bring them to the 
formal fleet engagement. Rodney led, and his flag-ship fought 
the French admiral's ship supported by two others for an hour 
and a half, when the French admiral and his seconds bore away. 
But Rodney's captains failed to support him and he lost what 
he considered "that glorious opportunity of terminating the 
naval contest in those seas." 

The French line was broken and their ships retired; but 



Bodney 's vessels were too badly crippled and too much scattered 
to pursue. It was accounted, however, an important British 
victory and these five months of continuous success were an 
earnest that Eodney might be capable of still greater victories 
in the future. 

, Against his achievements, America, France and Spain could 
offset a great success in the capture in August of a large British 
convoy of sixty-three sail carrying troops and supplies to the 
West Indies. It was the heaviest single blow English com- 
merce had ever received. Besides this there was only the taking 
of Mobile, which was then in West Florida. The expedition 
was organized by De Galvez, the energetic Spanish governor of 
Louisiana. When he first set out his ships were wrecked in 
Mobile Bay, the crews and men escaping almost naked and with 
the loss of a large part of their guns, ammunition and provis- 
ions. But they refused to give up their enterprise, made 
scaling ladders of the wrecked vessels, and being reinforced by 
part of a regiment and some ships from Cuba, they had no 
difficulty in overcoming the small English garrison at Mobile 
before succor could reach it from Pensacola. 3 

In European diplomacy, a movement had been started 
which, for the rest of the war, united the continental nations 
of Europe more and more strongly against England. The 
British had for a long time claimed and exercised the right 
to seize the vessels of any nation which were found carrying 
supplies to the ports of a country with which England was at 
war. The Dutch had for a long time been assisting the Ameri- 
cans and were now carrying warlike supplies to France. In 
January, 1780, a British captain seized some Dutch vessels 
carrying timber and naval stores to France, and fired on the 
Dutch war-ships which convoyed them. This raised the question 
whether the time was not now opportune for united action by 

Diary and Letters of Thomas Hutchinson, vol. ii, p. 340; Gordon, 
" American Bevolution," edition 1788, yol. iii, pp. 401, 405-409, 411, 412; 
Annual Register, 1780, chap. 9; Writings of Washington, Ford edition, 
vol. viii, pp. 294, 295 ; Stedman, " American War/' vol. ii, pp. 188, 255, 
263; Clowes, "Koyal Navy," vol. iii, pp. 448-463, 473, 477, 478. 



European 'nations to stop England's arrogant' methods/ The 
suggestion is said to have originated with the King of Sweden, 
but the Empress Catherine of Russia had for some time, -under 
the instigation of the other interested powers, been its prin- 
cipal advocate. She now on the 26th of February,, 1780, 
announced the new doctrine that ships, of a neutral nation may 
carry to a belligerent all commodities 1 except arms and ammu- 
nition. The United States, France and Spain immediately 
accepted the doctrine. Denmark, Sweden and Russia sup- 
ported it by an alliance, called by the rather curious phrase, 
the Armed Neutrality, because they agreed that if a ship 6f 
any one of them suffered from a violation of the new rule, the 
navies of all three would retaliate. 

It was quickly seen that -if America failed to win her inde- 
pendence England would become so powerful that she could 
afford to ignore this new rule, that "free ships make free 
goods.'* That argument became a powerful lever in the hands 
of our ambassadors Adams and Franklin. They never wearied 
of suggesting it; they kept it before the powers day and 
night, until in the public mind of all the continental nations 
the cause of American independence and the safety of European 
commerce were one. 4 ' ' 

4 Manning, Commentaries on the Law of Nations, Amos edition, 1875, 
pp. 323-351; Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, p, 
402; Stedman, "American War," vol. ii, pp. 257-263; Anderson,. 
*' History of Commerce," edition 1790, vol. vi, p. 362, 



IN May, 1780, with Georgia and South Carolina conquered 
and Washington's army unable to do anything but hold the 
Hudson Highlands, the patriot party were looking anxiously 
for help from Europe. Although a large part of -the South 
seemed lost, the northern states were still independent and 
free from occupation except the town of New York and the 
adjacent counties. It seemed to the patriots that there was 
still hope of salvation if assistance could be obtained from 
Holland, and po,ssibly something from Frederick of Prussia 
or Catherine of Bussia, in response to the efforts of the envoys 
that had been sent to those countries. 

The French Court had, however, warned the Congress that 
England also had agents and emissaries in those countries 
working hard against the American envoys and employing 
the utmost endeavors to persuade the European nations that 
there was no use in helping the United -States, which -would 
never become really independent and would soon agree to a 
compromise by which they would remain a part of the British 
empire. The American patriots must remember, said the 
French Court, that they were in a dangerous situation;- for 
France could not -risk her great interests in the West Indies 
by sending fleets and armies to the American continent. The 
American patriots must learn to fight their own battles and 
protect themselves. 

- The great danger to them now lay in the diplomatic situ- 
ation, which might produce at 'any -moment an " armed media- 
tion "-of several of the powers to stop the war. France and 
Spain would -have to accept the terms 'of that mediation ; and 
it might not be favorable to American independence; for so 
long ! as British forces occupied any part of the United States 



the mediating powers might not be willing to ask England to 
withdraw from a country which she already occupied. 

In other words, the patriots must not rest content with 
controlling the greater part of the country, and assuming 
that lapse of time and European intervention would give 
them the rest. They had organized themselves as thirteen 
states, but so long as England held two of them, Georgia and 
South Carolina, and the principal city, New York, in a third, 
European diplomats would regard the whole country as still 
legitimately hers ; and as a matter of fact, she had now more 
absolute control in it than at any other time during the war. 
The Congress, the patriot party and the generals, must exert 
themselves to drive the British from every part of the United 
States or they would surely lose their independence. 1 

But what could they do? "Where were they to obtain the 
men, the money and the supplies? They had already sent to 
the Carolinas all the northern troops that could be spared, 
and they could now hardly obtain enough men to enable Wash- 
ington to hold the Hudson Highlands. As spring advanced, 
the remains of his small army was found destitute of equip- 
ment and stores of every sort. Supplies that had been con- 
tracted for were not furnished because the contractors, seeing 
no prospect of payment, refused to carry out their agreements. 
The horses that had been put out to winter had starved to 
death or were unfit for use; and the few supplies that were 
on hand could not be hauled where they were needed for want 
of wagons. 

The Congress, however, issued a powerful appeal to pa- 
triots and to the state governments. They must not appear 
contemptible in the eyes of their great ally. All the European 
nations were watching to see what Americans could do. This 
must be the last campaign of the war and must drive the last 
British soldier from the continent. 

In Philadelphia, the patriot women formed themselves 
into a society called "The American Daughters of Liberty," 

1 Gordon, " American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, pp. 335-339. 



begged war subscriptions from house to house, and made shirts 
for Washington's destitute troops. But so completely ex- 
hausted was the country and the patriot party by five years 
of war, that all these efforts of Congress and of individuals 
failed to give any material increase to the army. The sub- 
scriptions raised by the utmost exertions of the patriot women, 
amounted to a mere trifle. They were given paper money and 
collected $300,000 of it, which at the rate of depreciation of 
that time, 40 to 1, was equal in actual value to only $7500. On 
the 4th of July, more than six months after the appeal had 
been made, Washington reported that only a few unimportant 
reinforcements had been received and that the patriot gov- 
ernments in some of the states had not even informed him 
whether they would do anything. 2 

Beneath all this failure and gloom, however, the Congress 
and Washington were nourishing a magnificent hope, which 
had to be kept secret for several months. Lafayette had gone 
to France the year before and had labored hard to persuade 
the French. Court to change their policy of confining their 
exertions exclusively to the West Indies. He also had to over- 
come a prejudice against sending troops to America. It had 
been believed by both Washington and the Congress that, 
while naval assistance from France would be gladly wel- 
comed, it might be unsafe to bring French land forces into 
the interior of the country, where the people had not yet for- 
gotten their wars against the French in Canada. Lafayette 
had ardently opposed this idea, and his final proof of its 
fallacy was one of his best services to the American cause. 

In May, 1780, he returned from France and reported in 
secret to Washington and the Congress that the French King 
had finally consented that an army and a fleet should be sent 
direct to the United States. But the troops and the fleet had 

'Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. viii, pp. 323, 324 notes; 
vol. ix, pp. 113, 138; Gordon, "American Revolution/* edition 1788, vol. 
iii, pp. 362-364, 375, 376, 390; W. B. Reed, "Life of Joseph Reed/' vol. 
ii, appendix. 



not arrived or even started; their coming must be concealed 
from the English ; and- until they should actually appear upon 
the' coast not a whisper, of the good news must get abroad. 

Washington immediately became -enthusiastic, over what 
seemed to him a brilliant opportunity* By detaching so many 
troops to conquer South Carolina, Clinton had left New York 
quite weak. He had, of course, relied upon the patriot force 
remaining as it was. But if it should now be increased by a 
French fleet and army, Clinton might be beaten in detail 
first in South Carolina and then at New York. 

Washington quickly drew up plans for effecting this dou- 
ble stroke. He hoped that the siege of Charleston would not 
be raised. He wanted it prolonged so that the French might 
fall upon Clinton while still absorbed in his parallels and 
trenches; and his letters earnestly explaining this to General 
Lincoln are quite pathetic, in view of what happened. 

Copies of all his plans, and most polite letters to the French 
admiral, were placed in the hands of officers stationed along 
the coast as far south as Virginia, who were to go out to the 
fleet in small boats as soon as it was sighted. Careful ar- 
rangements were also made to furnish the fleet with pilots. 
Washington particularly urged, if the French first arrived 
on the northern coast and were willing to attack New York, 
that the attack be made instantly before the town could be rein- 
forced. He knew that the fleet would be tempted to run 
into Newport, which was such an easy place, in those times, 
for sailing vessels to enter; and he begged that this should 
not be done ; but an instant attack made upon New York, which 
had scarcely any war vessels protecting it. 

If the French would do this, he believed that in spite of 
the depressed state of the patriotic party, he could raise 30,000 
troops, or some large number, for the sudden emergency as had 
been done at the time of the Battle of Long Island. 3 

But many weeks passed away. Washington on the 1st of 

8 Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. viii, pp. 264-284, 301, 
304; Sparks, "Writings of Washington/* vol. vii, pp. 32, 477. 



'June heard of the fall of Charleston. The French could, 
therefore, do nothing 'in that quarter; and everything how 
depended on their reaching New York before Clinton could 
return from the South and reinforce it.'' Washington was full 
of anxiety and was striving to make preparations; but no 
patriot troops could be raised in spite of the most earnest 
appeals. The resources of the patriot party were exhausted. 

This brought about an' unexpected and mortifying change 
of plan. The fleet when it arrived must be told that nothing 
could be done to second their efforts. In fact, the few troops 
on hand, including their officers, were so ragged that it was a 
question whether it would be well to let the French see them. 4 

On the 18th of June, it became known that Clinton had 
returned to New York from the South. He and the Ministry 
had all along had complete knowledge of the preparation of 
the fleet in France, its starting and the probable length of its 
voyage, so that Clinton had been able to time his movements 
with exactness, and there had never been any chance for the 
success of Washington's plans. The state of affairs was now 
very black; and there was considerable discussion among the 
members of the Congresses to the advisability of abandoning 
South Carolina and Georgia, letting the British have them 
without question, and concentrating all energies on saving the 
independence of the North and possibly gaining Canada. 

" It is possible," reported Luzerne to the French Court, " that the 
British will make a proposition to the ten northern states tending to 
assure their independence; and their scheme will be to form into a new 
government the two Carolinas, Georgia, East Florida and the Bahama 
Islands, which together would make a respectable possession." (Writings 
of Washington, Ford edition, vol. 8, p. 325 note.) 

At last, on the 10th of July, the French Admiral de Ternay, 
with ten war-ships, convoying thirty-two transports with six 
thousand troops under Rochambeau, arrived at Ehode Island, 
sailed into Narragansett Bay and settled down snugly for a 
long stay at Newport. To prevent misunderstandings between 

* Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. viii, pp. 313, 318, 333, 

Vol. 1119 289 


the two commanders a commission had been sent appointing 
Washington a lieutenant-general of France, which put Bocham- 
beau under his orders. The town was illuminated to receive 
them. Complimentary addresses were presented by patriot 
committees from the interior; and Rochambeau in replying 
declared that his force was merely the vanguard of a much 
greater one that was coming to the aid of America. Contrary 
to all expectations the French troops became very friendly and 
popular with the New Englanders. They refrained from every 
kind of offence and were models of neatness, sobriety and good 

The coming of the fleet and army to America had been made 
possible, it seems, by the sailing to the West Indies of a 
Spanish fleet of twelve vessels, and eighty-three transports, 
carrying eleven thousand troops to join with France in ex- 
pelling the British from the islands; and this reinforcement 
was expected to restore to France and Spain the superiority 
in those waters. 5 

As soon as Washington heard of the arrival of the French 
fleet he sent Lafayette to consult with both Admiral de 
Ternay and General Roehambeau and arrange a plan for at- 
tacking New York about the 5th of August. But so well had 
the British Ministry timed their movements that three days 
after the arrival of the French at Rhode Island a British 
squadron of six powerful war vessels under Admiral Graves 
arrived in New York, giving Clinton a decided naval superi- 
ority in that town, which he had already reinforced with the 
troops he had brought from the South. 

But Washington would not give up hope; for the other 
French fleet and land force was said to be on the ocean and 
when that arrived the French would surely have a naval su- 

Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. viii, pp. 304, 313 note, 
316 note, 318, 319, 325, 327, 328, 341, 342, 343, 349 note, 355, 363: 
Gordon, "American Revolution/' edition 1788, vol. iii, pp. 379, 384, 
417, 425; Chastellux, "Voyage de Newport," &c.; Journal of Claude 
Blanchard; Stedman, "American War," vol. ii, p. 245; Niles, "Prin- 
ciples and Acts of the Revolution," edition 1876, p. 254. 



periority over Clinton. At the same time we learn that Wash- 
ington 's army was reduced to such straits that he was trying 
to borrow two hundred tons of powder and five thousand mus- 
kets from the French fleet, and unless we obtain these supplies, 
he says, "we certainly can attempt nothing/ 5 He had not even 
muskets enough for the few recruits which had recently been 
obtained. And yet at this time, when the weakness of the 
patriot cause had become deplorable, when the Congress had 
thrown the responsibility on the patriot governments of the 
different states, and those states were either indifferent or 
helpless, when Arnold was preparing to desert the sinking 
ship and others no doubt thinking of similar plans, we can 
find no undignified or petulant word in "Washington's letters. 
It was one of the occasions when his long practised equipoise 
became superb. 

"When Clinton learned on the 18th of July that the French 
fleet had reached Newport, he instantly moved eight thousand 
of his troops out to Throg's Neck on the shore of Long Island 
Sound, to be put on transports and make a sudden descent 
upon the French before they could prepare fortifications or 
be reinforced by militia. He also hoped to accomplish this 
blow so quickly that he could return to New York before 
"Washington could attack it weakened by the withdrawal of 
eight thousand of its defenders. But the British admiral was 
slow in bringing the transports to Throg's Neck. The troops 
were not embarked on them until the 27th; and hearing that 
the French were making great preparations to receive him 
and that "Washington, guessing his design, had already started 
to threaten New York, he took the troops across the sound to 
Huntington Bay, disembarked them on Long Island, whence 
they hastened back to defend New York. 6 

A portion of the British fleet then sailed for Newport and, 
making a base in Gardiner's Bay on Long Island, blockaded 
the French war vessels and kept them locked up in Narragansett 
Bay for the next year. This was possible, because another Brit- 

8 Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. viii, pp. 364-375. 



ish fleet of thirty-two ships of the line had in like manner locked 
up the second French fleet in the harbor of Brest, before it 
started from France. There is no denying that this was mas- 
terly work on the part of both Clinton and the Ministry. Hav- 
ing learned.all about the preparation of these two French arma- 
ments, they took advantage of the mistake the French made in 
sending them separately. If the two had been combined 
the English could have done little or nothing against them. 
The combination would certainly have been superior to the 
English war vessels and army at New York, which might have 
been taken by an American and French assault, and the war 
perhaps abruptly terminated. 

But the French armaments being widely separated were 
easily disposed of. A great Spanish land and naval armament 
had been sent out to the West Indies and had joined the French 
fleet of the Count de Guichen; and it had been expected that 
this combined force after inflicting the greatest damage on the 
English islands would go to the American continent and make 
sure of Washington and Rochambeau driving the British from 
New York. But like the great combined fleet under D'Orvil- 
liers it did nothing in the West Indies. Sickness among the 
crews, it is said, destroyed its efficiency. The Spanish fleet and 
army went to Cuba and De Guichen convoyed a fleet of mer- 
chantmen, to Europe. Lafayette's good work in procuring 
assistance from France seemed now as if it had been wasted; 
and Clinton was free to hold New York and go on with his 
southern cqnquests. 

When Washington had crossed to the east side of the Hud- 
son and moved down to threaten New York during Clinton's 
short absence, he had wanted Arnold to command the attack 
and was surprised to find him unwilling and making excuses, 
of iis old wound and lameness, which would prevent active 
duty in the field. He was therefore put in charge of West 
Point, which was, it .seems, exactly what he wanted. 

The news that the second French fl6et and army had been 
shut up for an indefinite period in the harbor of Brest, was 
brought to Boston on the 16th of August by the "Alliance" 



under her insane Captain, Landais, who had marred the fight 
between the "BonHommeKichard" and the "Serapis" by fir- 
ing indiscriminately into both vessels. Up to that time both 
Washington and Lafayette had been full of confidence in an 
attack upon New York and persistently urged it upon Eocham- 
beau and the Admiral. Washington was profoundly disap- 
pointed and according to English reports lost for a moment 
"that composure of countenance and equanimity of temper for 
which he was so much distinguished. " He feared, Boeham- 
beau says, that this campaign would be the last the patriots 
could make and "he wished at any hazard to risk an attack 
upon the enemy in their stronghold while he had the French 
troops at his disposal." 7 

The French officers were, however, no doubt right in re- 
fusing to attack without the second division, or such decrease 
in Clinton's force of ships and men in New York as would 
give the Americans and French an unquestioned superiority. 
The French could not afford to lose ships, for on their ships 
depended their West India possessions; and it would be risk- 
ing too much to attack a superior British fleet in New York 

There was nothing to do but let the high hopes of the 
patriots fall flat. The French troops at Newport could not 
be used elsewhere, because they must remain at Newport to 
protect the French fleet from a combined naval and land at- 
tack by Clinton. Indeed, there was no use in attempting to 
use these troops elsewhere so long as there was no American 
or French naval superiority on the coast. Everything for 
the rest of the war depended on which side had the naval 
superiority. The patriots had no navy, and had it not been 
for their expectations in this regard from France, they would 
have had to succumb. 

7 Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. viii, pp. 382, 383, 375, 
400-402, 403 note, 408, 414 note, 418, 448; Annual Register, 1781, chap. 
2; Stedman, "American War," vol. ii, pp. 245-247, 270; Pontgibaud, 
"A French Volunteer in the War of Independence," pp. 85, 86; Clowes, 
" Eoyal Navy," vol. iii, p. 469. 



Washington abandoned all his plans, began to reduce ex- 
penses and worry over the old question of starvation. Some- 
times he was glad that no recruits had come, because there 
would have been nothing on which to feed them. It was al- 
ways a problem with him, whether to have more men and no 
food, or fewer men and a chance for them to live. The Con- 
gress and the states having almost ceased from furnishing 
either men or provisions, his supplies of food and forage had 
been obtained by forcible seizures, from loyalists when possible, 
but when they were exhausted, from the patriots. How much 
longer this could be done without alienating the whole popula- 
tion and destroying the basis of the patriot party, was a 

The French admiral wrote that "the revolution is not so 
far advanced as has been believed in Europe. " The posses- 
sion by the English of two of the southern states, from which 
it seemed impossible for either America or France to move 
them, cut down the ideal of American independence. Even 
a compromise arrangement would now affect only the North. 
The South would be more absolutely colonial and subservient 
than it had been before the war. 8 

8 Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. viii, pp. 383-400, 405-407, 
410-412, 415, 417, 419, 421, 422, 423 note, 432-435, 436 note, 437, 367, 468, 
476, 477 note, 478, 479, 505; vol. ix, pp. 13, 17, 45, 46, 48, 53-55, 57-62, 
73, 79, 80, 110, 116, 137, 139-142, 165. 



AFTER the French Government had warned the patriot 
party that they must do more for themselves and rely less on 
the alliance, the Congress, in April, 1780, at the suggestion of 
General Gates, sent some Maryland and Delaware troops to 
the South. They numbered only fourteen hundred effectives, 
and were merely the nucleus of an army which it was hoped 
would receive large reinforcements from the southern militia, 
and move upon the British in South Carolina. Baron De Kalb, 
who commanded them, was a foreigner not yet accustomed to 
American conditions, and in July he found himself no farther 
than Buffalo Ford on Deep River in North Carolina, without 
reinforcements, and under the necessity of detaching most oJ 
his troops to hunt for provisions and gain subsistence from 
the lean cattle which roamed through the woods. 

Meantime, the Congress, despairing of his doing anything, 
had appointed General Gates to the command of all the patriot 
forces in the South. He had been so successful in drawing 
together in New York the large body of troops which brought 
Burgoyne to a surrender, that it was supposed he would be 
equally efficient in organizing the southern militia against 

Gates began his unpromising undertaking on the 25th of 
July, and acted with great promptness. He kept De Kalb as 
commander of the Delaware and Maryland troops, and met with 
some success in collecting North Carolina militia. Buffalo 
Ford where he found himself was in the modern Chatham 
County, and he was advised by Colonel Williams, and some 
other officers, to move westward to Salisbury and Charlotte, 
make his headquarters there, and then march against Camden 
in South Carolina by way of Waxhaws, through a fertile coun- 



try inhabited largely by patriots* This suggestion was rejected 
and Gates decided upon going by the shorter way to Camden 
as more calculated to inspire confidence in his men. But 
the route lay in a loyalist countfy of pine barrens and sand 
hills, interspersed with swamps, the same region in which the 
modern winter health resorts, Pinehurst and Southern Pines, 
are situated. The air of that region is dry and invigorating, 
but the troops of Gates needed more than air to sustain them. 
They had to live on unripe corn, green peaches in place of 
bread, and a few starved cattle they shot in the woods. Some 
of them made soup with the white powder which the revolution- 
ary soldier, no matter how ragged and destitute, always carried 
to dust over his long hair tied in a queue. 

The British had not yet completed their pacification of 
South Carolina. Camden, their important interior post, was 
not strongly protected, and if Gates took it their interior control 
would be broken and they would have to retire to Charleston. 
They had not dreamed of such a force as that of Gates coming 
upon them. He seemed to have a rare opportunity to strike 
a heavy blow; and if he succeeded the combination of such a 
victory with that of Saratoga would give him a most enviable 

Lord Eawdon, a stripling officer of twenty-five years, com- 
manded at Camden, and advanced to meet Gates as far as 
Lynch 's Creek; but fell back as Gates approached. On the 
13th of August Gates had encamped within thirteen miles of 
Camden and the next day received a reinforcement of seven 
hundred Virginia militia. He had now about three thousand 
men and was not without hope that Lord Rawdon would aban- 
don Camden as he had abandoned the outposts. 

But, as Gates had come for the purpose of an aggressive 
attack he could not wait, and on the night of the 15th of 
August, at 10 o'clock, his army marched to surprise and assault 
the British. He had no cavalry and made the mistake of 
supposing that they were useless in the South. His men were 
hungry, and having no rum, he gave them molasses, which 
made most of them sick, and caused much confusion and break- 


ing of ranks in the night march. Yet the expedition had good 
prospects of success, for there were only about two thousand 
British to defend Camden. Unluckily Cornwallis had returned 
to Camden the day before, and considering that a retreat, 
though justifiable, would be very injurious to the British inter- 
est, he marched his whole force to attack and surprise the- 
Americans at the same time that they marched to attack him. 

The two forces met about 2 o'clock in the morning to the 
great surprise of both sides, and there was desultory fighting 
during the rest of the night in which one of Gates 's best 
officers, Porterfield, was disabled and sent to the rear. When 
morning came Gates had his army posted between two marshes 
which protected his flanks, and his officers in council would 
not suggest a retreat. 

The original plan had been completely frustrated by an 
unforeseen contingency; and Gates was now in a position not 
of his own choosing, and into which he had been forced by cuv 
cumstances. The force opposing him, according to the account 
of a prisoner, was about three thousand; but the returns of 
Cornwallis give the number as twenty-two hundred and thirty- 
three, while Gates had present and fit for duty, three thousand 
and fifty-two. The English troops, though inferior in numbers, 
were old regulars, and when their superior discipline is con- 
sidered it cannot be said that there was any advantage on 
the side of the half -starved raw militia of Gates. Many of his 
officers were no doubt in favor of a retreat, but no one would 
be the first to propose it. When Williams suggested that Gen- 
eral Stevens 's militia brigade should begin the attack upon the 
British, Gates assented and Williams immediately ordered the 

The British instantly replied to this movement by charging, 
firing and huzzaing. The raw militiamen, who had been living 
for weeks on half-ripe corn and green peaches, were panic 
stricken, threw down their loaded arms and fled back upon the 
main army with such precipitation, that the whole was disor- 
ganized and no efforts of officers, or the heroic conduct of 
De Kalb, who fought until he sank under eleven wounds, could 



stop the retreat. Individual brigades and regiments fought 
with desperation, and the Maryland and Delaware Continentals 
sustained their reputation and gave the enemy a check. But 
the formation and organization of the army was broken and 
individual valor was of no avail. Cornwallis, seeing the demor- 
alization, ordered the cavalry of Hanger and Tarleton to charge 
and that completed the rout. 

Gates and Caswell, who commanded the North Carolina 
militia, hurried to the encampment of the previous day at Cler- 
mont, hoping to be able to rally the flying troops, but it was 
impossible. The farther the troops fled the more they dis- 
persed, pursued by bands of loyalists who killed or captured 
some of them and took others to their homes under promises 
of remaining neutral during the war. The American baggage 
fell into the hands of the British, who continued the pursuit for 
twenty miles; and for forty miles the roads are said to have 
been strewn with arms, baggage, sick, wounded and dead. 

In England it was regarded as the greatest British victory 
of the war, because the Americans were said to have had a 
greater superiority in numbers than in any other battle. Corn- 
wallis had reported the disproportion as 5000 to 2000, and in 
Boss's edition of the Cornwallis correspondence, the dispropor- 
tion is stated as 7000 to 2000. The King expressed the highest 
satisfaction in this victory over such large numbers. But he 
was very grievously mistaken in this as in other matters re- 
lating to Cornwallis. Gates, as we have seen, had only about 
800 more men than Cornwallis ; and this apparent advantage 
was more than made up by the superiority of the British in 
discipline and equipment, as well as in having had enough to 

For the patriots it was a disastrous defeat, completely break- 
ing the organization of their southern army and scattering the 
men so far and wide, that the number of our killed and 
wounded has been difficult to ascertain. The artillery, am- 
munition and most of the baggage and wagons were captured, 
and according to Cornwallis, there were one thousand killed 
and eight hundred prisoners. But Gates put the killed, 



wounded and missing at only seven hundred and the British 
loss as five hundred killed and wounded. 1 

Gates, who had now become a general of a remarkable vic- 
tory and a remarkable defeat, retired with Caswell and other 
officers to Charlotte, where he established a rendezvous for his 
scattered army, and there was a prospect for a time of collecting 
them, and with reinforcements again assailing the British. 
Colonel Sumter, who had borrowed four hundred of Gates 's 
troops, had succeeded in capturing one hundred prisoners and 
a convoy of British supplies on their way from Charleston 
just as they were crossing a ferry on the Wateree close to 
Camden. This victorious little force of Sumter y s might be 
made, Gates thought, the nucleus round which a new army 
would rally. But as Sumter was on his way with his spoil to 
join Gates, he stopped near Fishing Creek to rest his tired men, 
who had had but little sleep or food for four days. They were 
suddenly surprised in this position by the energetic Tarle- 
ton, who dashed into the American camp with his cavalry 
before Sumter 's videttes could rouse their sleeping comrades. 
It was another of Tarleton's clean sweeps, and those of Sum- 
ter *s men who were not killed or captured were scattered in 
the woods and swamps, wandered to other parts of the state or 
joined other partisan bodies. 2 

All hope of rallying the militia was now gone, and Gates 
considered it dangerous to remain in Charlotte. The remnants 
of the patriot army were moved to Salisbury, and officers sent 
out to direct the fugitives to the same place, whither patriot 

1 Narrative of the Campaign by Otho H. Williams, printed in appen- 
dix of Johnson's "Life of General Greene;" Ross, " Conrwallis Corre- 
spondence/' vol. i, pp. 55, 56; Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 
1788, vol. iii, pp. 391, 429-447; G. W. Greene, " Life of General Greene/' 
vol. iii, pp. 15-31 ; B. F. Stevens, " Clinton-Cornwallis Controversy," vol. 
i, pp. 250, 290; Draper, "King's Mountain/' p. 504; Tarleton, Narra- 
tive, pp. 104-109, 131-135; Lee, Memoirs, vol. i, p. 193; Sparks, "Corre- 
spondence of the Revolution/' vol. iii, pp. 66, 76; Stedman, w American 
War/' pp. 204-211; Lamb, "American War," p. 303. 

Tarleton, Narrative, pp. 112-116; Gordon, "American Revolution/' 
edition 1788, vol. iii, p. 447. 



families, wounded, starving, soldiers in every form of pain and 
dejection, and the tribe of Catawba Indians, were soon march- 
ing to escape from the British and the loyalists. From Salis- 
bury Gates took the motley crowd northward to Hillsboro, 
where they were comparatively safe. 

This abandonment of Charlotte was afterwards considered 
by General Greene as entirely unnecessary, and he-blamed Gates 
for this movement much more than for his defeat at Camden, 
which he regarded as more or less excusable. The defeat at 
Camden would, in Greene's opinion, have been readily forgiven 
by the patriot public if it had not been followed by the abandon- 
ment of Charlotte and the retreat northwards to Hillsboro. 3 

Soon after Gates arrived at Hillsboro, he had the satis- 
faction of learning that on the same day that Sumter's com- 
mand had been destroyed, another South Carolina partisan, 
Colonel Williams, had defended himself at Musgrove's Mills on 
the Enoree River against 500 loyalists and regulars and driven 
them off with heavy loss. But the attempt of Gates to save 
the South for patriotism had evidently failed. Cornwallis had 
a stronger hold than ever. Georgia was safe. In South Caro- 
lina the patriots were completely broken ; the patriot legislature 
dared not meet and the patriot governor fled from the state. 
South Carolina was strongly held by the British at Charleston 
and by a well garrisoned line of forts and cantonments follow- 
ing the Santee Eiver from Georgetown at its mouth to Camden 
in the interior. 

With the French suffering continual defeats and kept from 
giving any direct assistance to the patriots, who could do 
nothing but hold the Hudson Highlands, and with Georgia, 
. South Carolina and New York strongly occupied by the British, 
there seemed every probability, if this situation was continued, 
that the patriot party would be worn out and compelled to 
'accept such terms as the Ministry -might offer. 

The southern members of the Congress were now in favor of 
trying to secure more aid from Spain by abandoning to her all 

8 Gordon, " American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iv, p. 98. 



our claims to the free navigation of the Mississippi River. 
Whatever may have been their courage and their protestations 
or their determination to resist to the last, it is doubtful if there 
were any of our people, not even "Washington himself, that had 
in his heart any real hope for independence. Even a bad com- 
promise, more unfavorable than the last one offered by the 
Ministry, would now be hard to obtain ; for so long as she was 
in actual possession of the South, England could dictate severe 

It was a crucial time, the acme of Clinton's success, and 
he attempted to follow up the crushing defeat of Gates by a 
blow which, if it had succeeded, would in all probability have 
postponed American independence for half a century. 



FOB more than a year Clinton had been preparing for 
this grand stroke. Early in the year 1779 he had found that 
some important American officer was secretly communicating 
with him. Clinton continued the correspondence, which was 
carried on for him by his adjutant-general, Andre, the 
accomplished young Frenchman of Mischianza fame. In the 
summer of 1780, when the French army arrived at Newport 
and Gates was defeated at Camden, Clinton learned that his 
rebel correspondent had been placed in command of West 
Point, the most important patriot fortress on the Hudson, 
the key to the important strategic position for which all had 
been contending, and that he was ready to arrange for sur- 
rendering to the British this Gibraltar of the patriots, their 
only stronghold, to fortify which they had used their utmost 
efforts, and which covered their principal stores of military 

General Arnold, who was prepared to make this surrender, 
was in many respects the most heroic and able field officer in 
the patriot army. The perfection of his courage and physique, 
his skill in horsemanship and pistol practice had always won 
him the admiration of both men and women. But from the 
beginning of his career we find strong evidences of great dislike 
for him in the Congress and among the officers of the army. He 
was continually quarrelling with his brother officers. There was 
considerable evidence of his having seized the goods of mer- 
chants in Canada and sold them for his own profit. In spite 
of his distinguished services, the Congress appointed above him 
five junior major-generals, which has universally been regarded 
as great injustice, for which no reason has ever been given, 
except that many of the patriot party detested him. 

This dislike was probably due to Arnold's Quarrelsome dis- 



position, his frantic desire to acquire reputation, and later his 
obvious Joyalism and something in his manner, which was no 
doubt that overbearing and insolent tone which the loyalists 
imitated from the English. Of plain origin and conscious of 
deficiencies in speech and manners, he was almost insane with 
social ambition, and such an ambition was, at that time, one of 
the strong motives to loyalism. His desire for sudden wealth, 
and his desire to be in the most conspicuous fashion of the 
time, formed a consuming passion, which overwhelmed both his 
judgment and his morals. 1 

When he was placed in command of Philadelphia in June, 
1778, after its evacuation by the British, his real character and 
opinions instantly came out in a strong and conspicuous light. 
He associated exclusively with the loyalists who had spent the 
previous winter with the British army. He became extravagant 
in his style of living, and went into extravagant and reckless 
speculations to support it. He showed all the usual symptoms 
of a man whose consuming ambition is social position and atten- 
tion. He quarrelled with all the patriot leaders, and it was 
easy to do that because they despised him for the bearing he 
had assumed among the loyalists. They could not endure any- 
thing he did, even when it happened to be right. He soon 
became engaged to be married to Miss Margaret Shippen, one 
of the most attractive and prominent of the young loyalist 
ladies who had been so delighted with the visit of the British. 
It was a good marriage for his purpose. Her people were of 
that stripe of loyalists who would not leave the country, and 
yet clung to everything English in the hope that Britain would 
save them from independence and the rights of man on the 
one hand and the French monarchy on the other. 

It is easy to understand how a man of Arnold's ability and 
force, in chief command of an important town, could, from 
his association with fashionable loyalists, put on an air and 
tone towards Eeed, Mifflin, Robert Morris, and other patriot 

1 Codman, " Expedition to Quebec/' pp. 150, 284; Wilkinson, Memoirs, 
vol. i, pp. 47, 49, 58, 70-75. 



leaders that was unbearable. They also, very likely, saw in 
his loyalism a strong tendency to treachery. They made des- 
perate attempts to get rid of him, drive him out of the army, 
and ruin him, without giving any strong or reasonable ground 
for their action. 

They charged him with improperly admitting a ship into 
port, with using public wagons for carrying private property, 
of having improperly allowed people to enter the enemy's lines, 
of having improperly bought off a law suit, of having imposed 
menial offices on patriots, and of having improperly made pur- 
chases for his private benefit. They laid these charges before 
the Congress and sent them broadcast all over the country to 
the governors and legislatures with a purpose which is obvious. 

Arnold demanded an investigation, and the committee of 
the Congress which was appointed found all the charges ground- 
less except granting the pass and using the public wagons ; and, 
as in these two instances there appeared no wrongful intent, 
they acquitted him of all the charges. Arnold now resigned 
from the army and soon after married Miss Shippen. But 
Eeed and the others who had been in close contact with him in 
Philadelphia would not relent. They brought the subject again 
before the Congress, which recommended a trial by court- 
martial. The court-martial was appointed and made the same 
decision as the , committee, except that it recommended that 
Arnold be reprimanded, because in the matter of the pass 
and the wagons, which were used to save private property from 
the enemy, while entirely guiltless of a wrong intent, he had 
been somewhat imprudent. 

The reprimand was evidently intended as a sort of com- 
promise which would partially satisfy Arnold's persecutors, 
check their further proceedings and save Arnold's services for 
the patriot army. "Washington delivered the reprimand with 
the greatest gentleness and forbearance. 

Prominent men among the patriots, like Washington and 
Gates, shielded Arnold as much as they could, regretted the 
apparent injustice that was done him, and tried to soften his 
asperity and indignation, because they would not, if they 



could help it, lose his invaluable services. He had won such 
distinction at the Battle of Saratoga, and was so badly wounded, 
that Congress was obliged to square accounts and give Mm the 
rank to which he was fully entitled. 

But nothing could stop his inevitable tendency. The French 
alliance, the increasing demoralization of Congress, and the 
increasing anarchy and devastation throughout the country 
made him more of a loyalist than ever, or at least gave him 
excuses for avowing his loyalism. He finally said that he had 
not been in favor of the Declaration of Independence, although, 
as he explained, he had acquiesced in it as a means of carrying 
on the war and obtaining " redress of grievances," which was 
all for which, in his opinion, it was worth while to fight. He 
also professed to be influenced by the fear, entertained by so 
many loyalists at this time, that America would fall into the 
hands of France, unless reunited with the British empire. 

He had been for some time preparing to do what thousands 
of loyalists would have been glad to do if they had united 
to high ability a nature as treacherous and unscrupulous as 
his. He was determined by one fell stroke to stop the war, 
preserve the integrity of the British empire, put loyalism and 
loyalists in the ascendant, and give himself imperishable renown 
and an exalted station in England. 

In July, 1780, when Washington wanted him in the field 
to attack New York, he preferred to have the less active com- 
mand of West Point, and it was at once and gladly given to 
him. The events of that summer the ruinous defeat of Grates 
at Camden and the locking up oi one French army in Newport 
and another in Brest were particularly favorable to his pur- 
poses. There was every human probability that the surrender 
of West Point with its three thousand men, leading inevitably 
to the breaking of Washington's whole position in the Hudson 
Highlands, would end the patriot cause. 

In September, just before the news of the disaster to Gates 
had reached the North, Arnold and Andr6 were preparing the 
last details of their plan, and on the night of the 21st of Sep- 
tember they arranged for a final meeting. Andre came up the 

Vol. 1120 305 


Hudson in tlxe British war-ship "Vulture," and Arnold sent 
to the "Vulture" a boat in charge of Joshua Smith, a lawyer 
of means and prominence who liyed in that region, and one of 
the numerous persons who were not quite sure whether they 
were patriots or loyalists. The boat, by the testimony of both 
Arnold and the captain of the "Vulture," carried a flag of 
truce. Andre, however, said it carried no flag when he returned 
in it. 

The boat took John Anderson, as Andr6 had been called in 
the correspondence, to a thicket of trees on the river shore, 
about four miles below Stony Point, where he met Gustavus, 
as Arnold was called. Andre was in his uniform and wore a 
light cloak or overcoat. 

Here we see the first slip in this most important plan of 
Clinton to end the war, this plan of most extraordinary luck 
and accidents. Andre, an attractive, fresh-faced young Anglo- 
Frenehman, of pretty accomplishments and parlor tricks, could 
superintend Mischianza tournaments and fireworks or write 
clever verses. He had, it is said, done some work as a spy at 
the siege of Charleston and entered the town in disguise. 2 But 
he was unfit for this terrible enterprise with Arnold. It was 
a mistake for him to go ashore. He could have arranged to 
have Arnold come on board. The captain of the "Vulture" 
tried to restrain his impatience and dissuade him from going 
on shore, but to no purpose. 

The arrangements of the details of the surrender in the 
shadow of the thicket consumed the whole night, and as day- 
light appeared the boatmen refused to take the risk of a return 
to the "Vulture." Andre was persuaded to walk about a mile 
up the shore to the house of Joshua Smith, and there he and 
Arnold took their breakfast. 

TVhile they were breakfasting, the "Vulture" was fired 
upon by Colonel Livingston's battery on the other side of 
the river and forced to fall down the stream, which was another 
accident unfavorable to Arnold and his plans. After break- 

Munsell, "The Siege of Charleston," Albany, 1867, p. 115 note. 



fast Arnold returned in his barge to his headquarters, having 
first given to Andre papers describing the fortifications, the 
signals to be given by the approaching British force, and the 
method of sudden and unexpected surrender. These papers 
Andre concealed in his stockings and waited at Smith's house 
all day. 

When night came Smith thought it unsafe to try to take 
Andre in a boat to the " Vulture. 5 * He offered to take him by 
land all the way to New York, and Andre reluctantly con- 
sented. He disguised himself in some of Smith's clothes, crossed 
the ferry to the east side of the Hudson, and in company with 
Smith pursued his way on horseback towards the British lines 
at White Plains. He was within the American lines in dis- 
guise and with papers on his person for the betrayal of a 
fortress. Clinton had especially warned him against the dis- 
guise and the papers because they would constitute him a spy 
in the full meaning of the word. 

Nevertheless, he and Smith, by the aid of passes which 
Arnold had given them, passed successfully by patriot guards 
and even stopped and talked with them. As they approached 
the neutral ground, however, they feared to enter it and stopped 
at a farm-house to sleep for the rest of the night. The neutral 
ground between the two armies was infested by " skinners/' 
so called because they usually stripped and robbed their vic- 
tims, and by "cowboys" who seized cattle for the British army. 
The "skinners" called themselves patriots, and the "cowboys" 
professed to be British; but they were both alike marauders 
who levied tribute and plundered quite indiscriminately. 

The next morning Smith conducted Andre a little distance 
into the neutral ground and then returned to report to Arnold. 
This was another accident, for if Smith had continued to fulfil 
his task Andre would undoubtedly have escaped to New York. 

Even alone he would in all probability have reached New 
York and carried out all of Arnold's plans if he had not made 
an unfortunate turn in the road. He was getting on success- 
fully and had even met with and talked to several patriots. 
But something a boy told him about scouts ahead led him to 



alter his course, and when near the present Tarrytown he was 
stopped at the roadside by three skinners, Pauldings, Williams, 
and Van Wart, who were playing cards and watching for plun- 
der and vengeance on some cowboys, who had killed and robbed 
a neighbor some days before. 

When Andre artlessly said that he hoped they were of "the 
lower party," which meant the cowboys, they said they were, 
and one of them pointed to his Hessian coat. Andre then fool- 
ishly announced himself a British officer on important business. 
They ordered him to dismount and told him they were Ameri- 
cans. He then helplessly changed his ground and showed 
Arnold's pass; but in spite of it they searched him and finding 
the papers in his stockings; declared him their prize, to be 
delivered to the nearest patriot officer. 

They took from him his watch, money, horse, and equip- 
ment, which were divided among them and afterwards sold. 
AndrS offered them large rewards if they would take him to 
New York, and increased the offer until it is said to have reached 
1000. But after consultation among themselves they refused 
it and carried him to Colonel Jameson, the nearest patriot 

They were young men, all under twenty-three, and their 
refusal of the large bribe has been usually credited to their 
sterling virtue. They were rewarded by Congress with pensions 
and gifts of land. But it is only fair that the reader should 
know that their virtue was denied by many people familiar 
with the circumstances, and particularly by Major Tallmadge, 
who maintained that they disregarded the bribe because they 
had no faith in its being paid. They consulted a long time 
about it, and decided that the risk was too great. If they 
allowed Andr4 to enter New York, or even if they kept him 
concealed and sent a messenger with the letter he offered to 
write, no arrangement for receiving the reward could be made 
that might not also involve a detachment sent out to capture 
them. If they had seen the least prospect of safely receiving 
the reward, or any substantial part of it, Tallmadge believed 
that they would have let Andre enter New York They saw more 



profit in the immediate spoil of the prisoner and in turning 
him over to the' nearest American officer. "While they had 
served as militiamen in the patriot army they were regarded 
as bad and indiscriminate marauders, and some of the people 
of the neutral ground accused them of being cowboys as well 
as skinners, 3 

Colonel Jameson was astounded when they delivered to him 
their prize with the papers. He was unable to believe that 
Arnold was a traitor. There must be, he thought, some honest 
explanation, and he innocently sent Andre with a guard accom- 
panied by a letter of explanation to Arnold, and sent the 
papers to Washington. Andre had now a good chance of escape 
if he reached Arnold. But not long after the guard started 
Major Tallmadge reached Jameson's quarters, and his remon- 
strances induced Jameson to send after the guard and bring 
back Andre, which was accomplished when Andr6 had only 
about an hour between himself and freedom. Jameson, how- 
ever, insisted on letting the letter of explanation go to Arnold. 

The game was now up. Andre was sent to Washington. 
Arnold received the letter when at breakfast, waiting for Wash- 
ington and his staff, who had just returned from an interview 
with the French general, Eochambeau, at Hartford. With 
superb coolness Arnold read the letter, ordered his barge 
manned, said that he had been suddenly called across the river, 
and went up-stairs. His wife followed him and fell fainting at 
the announcement he made. He called a maid to attend her, 
rushed down to his barge, and displaying his handkerchief as 
a white flag, was rowed to the British war-ship " Vulture/' 

He was rewarded with a gift of at least 6315 in money, 
which was a fortune in those days. His wife was given a pen- 

'Abbatt, "Crisis of the Revolution," p. 31; Benson, "Vindication of 
the Captors of Andre*/' pp. 10, 24, etc. ; Be Lancey's note to Jones, " New 
York in the Revolution/' vol. i, pp. 730, 737. See, also, Pennsylvania 
Magazine of History, vol. xxii, p. 410; Sargent, " Life of Andre 1 ; " Arnold* 
"Life of Arnold;" J, J. Boudinot, "Life of Boudinot," vol. i, pp. 
192-203; Boynton, " West Point/' chap. 7; Writings of Washington, Ford 
edition, vol. vii, pp. 417-420; vol. viii, pp. 444, 445 note, 449 note, 455 


sion of five hundred pounds a year, and each of his children one 
hundred pounds a year. He had also a command in the British 
army with perquisites and opportunities. Although some of 
the Whigs avoided his company, he was well received by the 
Tory aristocracy and the Bong, and his family finally married 
into the peerage. He accomplished a large part of his ambition. 
Had he succeeded in surrendering West Point, he would have 
no doubt been made a peer. His sons entered the British army, 
and his descendants still occupy positions of respectability in 
England, devoting themselves to the enlargement of the British 
dominion, which was the only cause their ancestor had had at 
heart. 4 

Soon after his escape to the "Vulture'* he published an 
explanation of his conduct, describing Ms leaning towards loyal- 
ism, and his disapproval of the Declaration of Independence, 
except as a mere means of obtaining a redress of grievances. 
He denounced the persistence in war and the attempt to dis- 
member the British empire after the peace terms of 1778, which, 
he said, offered all the redress of grievances which the patriots 
had originally demanded. He denounced also the alliance with 
France, "a monarchy too feeble to establish your independence 
so perilous to her distant dominions ; the enemy of the Protestant 
faith, and fraudulently avowing an affection for the liberties 
of mankind while she holds her native sons in vassalage and 
chains. " 

He announced that henceforth he would devote himself to 
the reunion of the British empire ; and it is probable that there 
never had been any other project to which he could be sincerely 
devoted. America and American life had become hopelessly 
commonplace to him; and the patriot party, conquered as he 
supposed, was still more repulsive. As to the infamous method 
he had attempted to use in taking leave of the patriots, he had 
no excuse to offer, except that if a blow was to be struck the 
vastness and importance of the issues at stake justified the 

4 Maga&ine of American History, vol. iii, p. 678; Gordon, " American 
Bevolution," vol. iv, p. 101. 



striking of the most heavy and telling blow that could be given. 
His nature was of that cold, unfeeling character, which 
could execute a deed of infamous treachery and experience no 
mental suffering. It has been assumed in modern times that he 
must have been tortured with remorse, and in his last hours 
he is supposed to have spoken mournfully of his patriot uni- 
form, which he had kept, and said that he was sorry that he 
had ever exchanged it for another. But Washington never 
believed that he felt any regret. He had accomplished a large 
part of his object, fortune and distinction in England, where 
such treachery in support of imperial conquest must necessarily 
be well rewarded, and where social rewards were, in his opinion, 
greater than in America. 

" I am mistaken/' said Washington, " if at this time Arnold is under- 
going the torments of a mental hell. He wants feeling. From some traits 
of his character which have lately come to my knowledge, he seems to 
have been so hackneyed in villainy and so lost to all sense of honor and 
shame, that while his faculties will enable him to continue his sordid 
pursuits there will be no time for remorse/' (Writings of Washington, 
Ford edition, vol. 8, p. 494.) 

As for poor Andre, he had been within the American lines 
in disguise, with papers in his stockings revealing a plan to 
capture West Point. British officers and British historians have 
usually maintained that he was a mere prisoner, protected from 
execution by the flag of truce, which Arnold and the captain 
of the "Vulture" declared was carried by Joshua Smith when 
he brought Andre ashore. But Andr6 himself settled this ques- 
tion. The board of officers appointed to try him asked him if 
he had come ashore from the " Vulture " under a flag; and he 
frankly replied that he had not, and had never considered him- 
self as under the protection of a flag. There was, therefore, 
nothing that could be done except to hang him as a common spy. 

It was one of the saddest and most pathetic scenes in all 
history. Andre's French delicacy, frank courage, and charm of 
manner won the hearts of his captors and of all the patriots 
in a way that would have been beyond the power of any English- 
man, He shoxild have been on the American side, as the rest of 



his countrymen were. As it was, Ms utter incapacity for such 
an enterprise as that of Arnold's had saved the Americans 
from ruin, and was, perhaps, another debt they owed to France. 
Crowds of people from all the country round men, women, 
-and children came to see him die. Most of them would have 
torn Arnold limb from limb, but they were weeping over Andre. 
Everything he did charmed them; the touching letter he wrote 
to Washington asking to be shot instead of hanged ; the outline 
of his beautiful, slender figure as he stood upon the gallows; 
his arranging with his own hands the noose around his neck 
and turning down his collar. No patriot could be found who 
would perform the task of executioner. They had to procure 
one of the half-way loyalist breed, who blackened his face and 
disguised himself, so that he could never again be recognized. 5 

5 See also Heath, Memoirs, p. 235; The Northern Invasion of 1780. 



THE patriot cause had never been so close to absolute ruin 
as at the time of Arnold's conspiracy in September, 1780. 
Every circumstance of the time indicates the narrow margin 
by which we escaped. On the 20th of August Washington had 
written that he could scarcely keep his army fed from day to 
day. That summer had been as difficult to endure as the 
winter at Valley Forge. "It will appear miraculous," he said, 
"if our affairs can maintain themselves much longer in the 
present train." 

When, shortly after writing this letter he set out with his 
staff to meet General Rochambeau at Hartford and see what 
assistance could be obtained in the future from the French 
army, which had been so long locked up at Newport, he and 
his officers borrowed all the money they could obtain to pay 
their expenses in riding through Connecticut. They procured 
$8000 in the paper currency, but so depreciated was this money 
that they had expended more than half the eight thousand 
before they had ridden out of the state of New York. They 
were pained and annoyed to think that on an excursion of sucli 
ceremony and importance to meet the distinguished officers 
of their allies, they would be unable to discharge even their 
ordinary tavern bills, and they were greatly relieved when they 
found that the Governor of Connecticut had given orders that 
they should be at no expense for anything while in his state. 1 

Washington strongly suspected that there were not a few 
others in the same state of mind as Arnold and deterred only 
by timidity or lack of opportunity. There were undoubtedly a 

1 Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. ill, pp. 478-480. 



very large number of people in New York and Connecticut who 
were playing a double game, dealing with both sides and fur- 
nishing information to both. There was an illegitimate traffic 
in goods with the British in New York which was made use of 
for spying by both sides. While only one monstrous traitor 
was discovered there were innumerable small ones ; and the most 
curious character among them, a really extraordinary product 
of the times, was William Smith, Jr., a prominent lawyer of 
New York, who has been described for us by Judge Jones who 
knew him well. Smith had taken a prominent part with the 
patriots and had been known as "patriotic Billy. " But in 1778, 
thinking that he saw the signs of the times, he had gone over to 
the British while at the same time, it is said, he kept up his 
connection with the patriots and furnished them with informa- 
tion. For the rest of the war he kept himself on good terms 
with both sides by the practice of a subtlety and cunning which 
one would not expect to find outside of the novels of Balzac or 
Dumas. His large estate in New York, Judge Jones says, was 
never confiscated by the patriots, although loyalists in the same 
class lost every penny. Having ingratiated himself sufficiently 
with the patriots to retain his American wealth, he ingratiated 
himself sufficiently with the British to secure an English 
income; for besides being the confidential adviser of General 
Clinton the Ministry appointed him Chief Justice of New York 
during the British occupation, and after the Revolution made 
him Chief Justice of Canada, with a comfortable salary. 2 

The secret service, or spy system, of the British army was 
in charge of an adjutant, and Andre had held that office when 
he conducted negotiations with Arnold. On the American side, 
Washington kept personal control of a system of his own, man- 
aging in his own way all the emissaries; and besides that the 
revolutionary committees and even prominent patriots, civilians 
and political leaders, as well as military officers, obtained infor- 
mation for their own purposes through private spies. It was a 

* Jones, " New York In the Revolution/* vol. i, pp. 147-149 and title 
"William Smith, Jtm.," in index; Writings of Washington, Ford 
edition, vol. viii, p. 455; vol, ix, pp. 247-249. 



war of spies and a close contest; for both sides seem to have 
had very full and accurate information and neither gained in 
this respect much advantage over the other. Ordinary infor- 
mation by the spy who goes within the lines in disguise, walks 
about and reports what he sees or overhears, was not difficult to 
obtain. But the deepest secrets, plans in the Congress, or among 
Clinton and his officers could only be reached by out and out 
treason or by the slight step from it, that most desperate and 
cunning of all emissaries, the double spy. 

In Washington's letters we find that he took great pains 
that the real names of some of his emissaries should never 
under any circumstances be known ; and no doubt for the reason 
that they had taken such part in the British service, or fur- 
nished so much information to the British, that they could never 
afterwards satisfactorily explain their double life in any com- 
munity in which they might live. 

The double spy had to be of service and furnish information 
to the enemy only just a little short of the information he 
obtained from them. In no other way in that close contest 
could really valuable knowledge be obtained. 

A curious instance of a man who played a very romantic 
and desperate double part, though not altogether a spy, and 
yet was able to explain it afterwards, was the young sergeant 
who was sent into the British lines immediately after the dis- 
covery of Arnold's treason. Washington had received infor- 
mation from two of his most reliable sources in New York that 
Arnold was not alone in the base conspiracy just detected, but 
that the poison had spread, and that a major general, whose 
name was not concealed, was certainly as guilty as Arnold. 

Deeply agitated by this information, Washington sent 
hastily for Harry Lee, of the Virginia Legion of picked cavalry, 
and asked him to furnish a man who would investigate this 
information which might, it was thought, be a mere trick of 
the British to destroy Washington's confidence in some of his 
best officers. Accepting the enemy's spy and filling him with 
false information was a subtle plan which Washington himself 
had practised. 



The man whom Lee was to furnish was also, with the aid 
of emissaries already in New York, to seize Arnold and bring 
him to the American camp in time to save Andr6 from execu- 
tion. It was certainly a compliment to Lee and his Legion that 
they were expected to contain a -man who must have a large 
part of the ability of an accomplished actor, all the self sacri- 
fice and devotion of the most exalted patriot and unusual phy- 
sique, courage and discretion. Arnold must be brought in 
uninjured and alive. Washington sternly forbade the least 
thought of assassination, which would only discredit the patriot 

Sergeant Champe, twenty-four years old, of powerful 
frame and tried courage, "with a saturnine countenance, grave, 
thoughtful and taciturn," was selected, and he lost scarcely a 
moment after he received his instructions. It was already night 
and he took his horse from the picket in the darkness and 
deserted, riding at full speed down the west side of the Hudson 
to join the British. In one sense it was a terribly real deser- 
tion ; for such was the high spirit of the Legion that the men 
needed no authority from court-martial proceedings to dispose 
of the case of a deserter. Champe narrowly escaped a patrol 
a few minutes after he lef i, and in half an hour his crime was 
known to his comrades. 

They found the foot marks of his horse, and knew them 
instantly by the private mark which was on all the fore shoes 
of the horses of the troop. They took up his trail like dogs, and 
the pursuit was the fast and furious dash of trained southern 
cavalrymen, the same men who appear to have suggested some 
of Cooper's most vivid descriptions in "The Spy." Lee, mean- 
while in pathetic anxiety for his favorite subordinate, had 
exhausted his ingenuity to delay and misdirect them by exces- 
sively zealous orders. 

Champe had intended to join the British at Paulus Hook; 
but when morning broke he had not quite reached Bergen, and 
he saw his pursuing comrades only half a mile behind hin^ 
They soon cut him off from Paulus Hook by taking a shorter 
road and occupying the bridge. But he had turned through 



Bergen and like a cunning fox confused his trail in the well 
beaten streets of the village. Finding they had failed at the 
bridge, the whole pack came galloping into the village and 
spread out all over it to pick up the lost scent. Soon two or 
three were yelping on the trail again and saw their game riding 
towards the shore, strapping his travelling bag to his shoulders, 
and throwing away his cloak and sword scabbard. He aban- 
doned his horse, plunged into the river and swam towards two 
British galleys, calling loudly for help. The galleys replied 
with shots at the pursuers, sent a boat to his aid, and he was 
welcomed on board and sent to General Clinton in New York 
with all the evidence of an ardent deserter. 

In a long conversation with Clinton, he was necessarily 
obliged to furnish a good deal of correct information and ended 
by telling the general that such was the spirit of defection in 
consequence of Arnold's example, that proper measures to 
encourage desertion would bring off hundreds of American 
soldiers, including some of the best troops horse and foot. To 
his infinite disgust, though in entire accord with the object of 
his mission, he was assigned to General Arnold and obliged to 
enlist in his Legion, which was largely composed of American 
deserters and loyalists. He soon discovered that the informa- 
tion Washington had received of the treasonable guilt of one 
of his major generals was incorrect. He reported this back to 
Washington, through whose spies he seems to have had no diffi- 
culty in quickly transmitting information to the American head- 
quarters and receiving replies and further instructions. With 
one of the spies he arranged an admirable plan to take Arnold, 
who strolled in the garden of his house every night before going 
to bed. He was to be seized, gagged and carried as a drunken 
soldier by Champe and the spy to a boat at a wharf. From the 
wharf a confederate would row them across to Hoboken to meet 
Lee and some troopers, who had been warned to wait at that 
place till daylight. 

Unfortunately, -Andre by promptly confessing himself a spy 
brought his trial to an end much sooner than was expected- and 
he was executed before Champe and the spy could seize Arnold. 



Deeply disappointed at not being able to save Andre, which 
had been a strong motive, Champe, nevertheless, attempted to 
finish his work. But on the day before the one he had fixed 
upon, Arnold moved his quarters to another part of the town 
and his Legion, including Champe, were transferred to trans- 
ports preparatory to a raid into Virginia. In Virginia Champe 
finally got a chance to escape and after many wanderings and 
vicissitudes joined his old comrades in their South Carolina 
campaign, and was well rewarded by Washington for his 
devotion. 3 

The most interesting double information dealer, whose his- 
tory leads to considerable knowledge of the times, was William 
Heron, a patriot member of the Connecticut legislature. In 
spite of his official position as a legislator, he habitually visited 
New York, ostensibly on his own private affairs, but principally 
as a most astute and successful spy. But which side he favored 
is now somewhat difficult to determine. 

From the patriot point of view he usually spied in the ser- 
vice of General Parsons, whose Connecticut troops formed part 
of Washington's army; and Parsons professed to have a high 
opinion of him, described his ''meaningless countenance" as a 
great advantage, recommended him to Washington and guaran- 
teed both his integrity and ability. 

The first evidence we have of his double methods is an 
account of a long interview on the 4th of September, 1780, 
between him and General Robertson, the British military gov- 
ernor of New York; and this interview Eobertson thought 
important enough to report to England to Lord George 

** He lires at Reading in Connecticut, came in with a flag returns 
this afternoon. He has had every opportunity he could desire to be 
acquainted with the public affairs and especially of that colony. Till last 
April he was in Assembly and a member for the county; ... is now in 
office respecting the public accounts. He ever was an enemy to the 
Declaration of Independence, but he said little except to the most trusty 

Henry Lee, Memoirs, vol. ii, pp. 159-187. 



Loyalists. He stands well with the officers of the Continental Army 
with General Parsons he is intimate and is not suspected.'* (New York 
Colonial Documents, vol. 8, p. 804.) 

Heron gave Eobertson a great deal of information of the 
sort usually brought in by loyalists and spies ; numbers, posi- 
tion and movements of the patriot troops, efforts and methods 
of recruiting, opinions and arguments of various people, dis- 
content at the length of the war, jealousies and animosities, 
debt, general impoverishment, and failure of the paper money. 

" Mr. Heron is confident the whole rebellion must fall soon from the 
internal weakness of the country in general, and the still greater weak- 
ness of the party that have hitherto fomented the troubles, who lose 
ground every day, and divide from each other. All subdivisions are for 
peace with Great Britain on the old Foundations. . . . Undoubtedly the 
majority of the continent have long been for a reunion with Great 
Britain. From his intimate knowledge of Connecticut, he is firmly per- 
suaded that not a tenth of the inhabitants are for contending for the 
Independency, if well assured by Government, that their charter shall 
stand good." 

The next evidence we have of Heron is about eight months 
afterwards on the 21st of April, 1781, when he went over to 
Long Island and in trying to enter the British lines was seized 
with his boat and crew by an officer who did not know him. 
But as soon as he could communicate with some higher official 
he was promptly discharged from custody and allowed to enter 
the lines to " transact business in his own private affairs;" and 
in the correspondence involved the officer who had arrested him 
says casually in a letter to another British officer, "as soon as 
those things wanted by General Parsons shall arrive I will not 
fail to send them to the General by another flag." * 

Whether Heron had arranged that something should be sent 
to his friend General Parsons does not appear. The words are 
entirely ambiguous ; but have been the cause of much suspicion, 
because a few days afterwards, on the 24th of April, 1781, 
Heron writes a letter to the British Secret Service Bureau and 
the day after visits that bureau and has a conversation with 

4 Magazine of American History, vol. 12, p. 168. 



the adjutant in charge, from which it appears that Heron had 
been employed to corrupt General Parsons and persuade him 
to furnish information and surrender a post to the British 
as Arnold had tried to do. 

Heron reported from time to time afterwards the efforts 
he was making, and their partial success. He had cautiously 
suggested to Parsons that in the present desperate straits 
an alliance with France, the enemy of the Protestant religion, 
and the most perfidious nation in Europe, was too dangerous 
to America to be longer continued. It would be better to 
compromise with England; and Parsons was told that any 
aid he could give would be "amply rewarded both in a lucra- 
tive and honorary way besides a provision for his son." He 
was reminded how well Arnold had been already rewarded, 
although his plot had not succeeded, and Heron was instructed, 

" To hold up the idea of Monk to him, and that we expect from his 
services an end to the war. That during the time he continues in their 
army, he shall have a handsome support, and should he be obliged to fly, 
to remind him of the example and situation of Arnold." (Magazine of 
American History, vol. xi, p. 65.) 

Monk, when in command of the Parliamentary army in the 
Cromwellian rebellion in England, had turned over the army 
to the royalists, ended the war and revolution, and restored the 
house of Stuart to the throne. His name was not infamous in 
England; nor would any infamy attach to the Arnold or the 
Parsons, it was said, who should, in like manner, end the war 
in America. 

It was an argument which, in the critical juncture of affairs, 
would seem far more plausible than it now seems after our 
Revolution has become successful. Parsons, as Heron reported, 
listened to it and began furnishing information which was 
conveyed by Heron to the British Secret Service Bureau, now 
in charge of Major Oliver DeLancey, a loyalist. 

Parsons was urged to do .more than furnish information. 
He must surrender some fort or men committed to his care, 
and various rewards were suggested. But Heron reported him 



unwilling to go farther than "to communicate any material 
intelligence, to inculcate principles of reconciliation and de- 
'taching his subordinate officers from the French- connection. " 
If, however, said the diligent Heron, the patriot affairs should 
grow worse, Parsons would very likely be willing to surrender 
a post or men. It was all a question of success ; "for were he 
sure independence would take place his prospects as a general 
officer would be so great from the country that they would out- 
weigh every other consideration. " B 

Parsons, if we can believe Heron,, was calculating chances 
to a nicety. Not of a bold and desperate mind like Arnold, he 
was pursuing the shrewder course of continuing to serve both 
sides so that whichever failed he could claim recognition from 
the victor and save his family from poverty and disgrace. 
Heron's reports on the subject keep appearing up to the 15th 
of July, 1781, in Clinton's "Record of Private Daily Intelli- 
gence" of the Secret Service Bureau. .The book closes with the 
19th of July of that year and no more volumes have been dis- 
covered. But almost a year afterwards, on the 4th of March, 
1782, Heron wrote a letter dated at New York to General Clin- 
ton, giving a great deal of information of patriot doings and 
in the postscript of it he says: 

" I have kept Gen. P. s in a tolerable frame of mind. ... he was 
somewhat chagrined when I returned from this place last October, yet I 
am convinced that in endeavoring to serve you he has (since) rendered 
himself in some measure unpopular. ... his frustrating the expedi- 
tion concerted by Talmage against Lloyd's Neck, his being an advocate 
for Loyal subjects and his being ready to communicate whatever comes 
to his knowledge of the secrets of the cabinet are facts which are indis- 
putable/' (Magazine of American History, vol. 20, pp. 331, 332.) 

A month after this letter to Clinton, General Parsons, hav- 
ing resigned from the American army, writes a letter to Wash- 
ington recommending Heron to him as the most intelligent and 
capable patriot spy within his knowledge. Heron, he said, was 

* Magazine of American History, vol. xi, pp. 62-65, 254, 257, 347-351, 
vol. xii, pp. 16S, 164, 166-170. 

Vol. 1121 321 


an Irishman- and -had a fellow countryman and friend who was 
an officer in the British secret service department. From this 
friend Heron frequently obtained .important and interesting 
intelligence and "that he has access to some of their secrets a 
few facts will show beyond a doubt. ' ' 

" Your Excellency will remember I informed you of the contents of a 
letter you wrote to Virginia which was intercepted a year ago but not 
published. This letter his friend showed him. Of the descent made last 
year on New London, I was informed by him and made a written repre- 
sentation of it to the Governor and council three days before it took 
place. This he had through the same channel. He has frequently brought 
me the most accurate descriptions of the posts occupied by the enemy and 
more rational accounts of their numbers, strength and designs than I 
have been able to obtain in any other way. As to his character I know 
him to be a consistent national whig; he is always in the field on every 
alarm and has in every trial proved himself a man of bravery; he has a 
family and a considerable interest in this State and from the beginning 
of the war has invariably followed the measures of the country." (Hall's 
"Life of General Parsons," pp. 418, 419.) 

Such was the character of a double spy in the Eevolution. 
It should be added that Heron had been again elected to the 
Connecticut legislature in the spring of 1781 and after the 
Revolution closed was continued in that position for seven 

As to his having corrupted Parsons, it will be observed that 
in his letter to Clinton of April, 1782, he mentions three facts 
as indisputable evidence that Parsons was assisting the British 
cause. The first was that Parsons had frustrated the expedition 
by Tallmadge against Lloyd's Neck. Lloyd's Neck was a broad 
promontory on the north shore of Long Island where the 
British had a post and fort which was used to protect the 
illicit trade with Connecticut and assist the transmission of 
intelligence from loyalists and spies. Tallmadge wanted to 
break up this nest, and obtained permission from "Washington 
in April, 1781. He makes no complaint of being frustrated by 
Parsons, but says that he applied to the French army and fleet 
at Newport to assist him and abandoned the expedition because 
the French could not furnish him with ships. In Ootober of 



tlie same year Parsons planned' a similar expedition, but was 
frustrated by General Heath. 6 

The second fact Heron says was that Parsons was an advo- 
cate for loyal subjects ; but We have no evidence of this. There 
is nothing of that nature in Parsons' letters, which are all 
earnestly patriotic as well as among the best expressed writings 
of the Revolution, and with their strong distinct signature give 
a very favorable impression of grasp of mind and integrity. 

The third fact of "his being ready to communicate whatever 
comes to his knowledge of the secrets of the cabinet" is unsup- 
ported by any evidence within our knowledge, -except a letter 
which Heron turned over to the British Secret Service and said 
was from Parsons to him. It gave the position of some of the 
patriot troops in the Hudson Highlands and the location of their 
most important magazines. The signature Heron had cut off 
and we have nothing but his word to show that Parsons ever 
wrote such a letter. 

Heron was constantly telling the secret service office that 
Parsons wanted money, and could not be held without money ; 
but no money seems to have been paid; and apparently the 
information obtained was of such small value that the British 
would pay nothing for it. 

General Parsons, though not often mentioned in history, was 
a valuable officer. He had organized the expedition that took 
Ticonderoga in 1775; and after the Revolution was well re- 
warded by the patriot party with offices and honors. He was 
appointed by the Congress in 1787 one of the judges of the 
Northwest Territory. In 1789 Washington made him chief 
justice of that territory and he was one of the Connecticut 
commissioners who made the treaty with the Wyandott Indians 
extinguishing their title to the Western Reserve of Ohio. When 
Clinton's secret service book was published for 'the first time 
in 1883 and the other evidence 'against him collected, Americans 
were shocked and surprised at the revelation. But a more care* 

Memoirs of Col. Bentj; Tallmage, p. 43;" Hall, "Life of General 
Parsons," pp. 404-408. 


ful review of the situation seems to show that Heron was really 
a patriot spy, and that he talked to the British about Parsons 
merely to promote himself in their good graces and seem to be 
furnishing them with what they wanted at a time when they 
had expected so much from the treason of Arnold. 

There is really not a spark of evidence against Parsons 
except* what Heron is reported to have said about him ; and 
Heron was a regular practitioner of deception in a desperate 
and dangerous game. He had to be of service to the British, 
furnish them with information and seem on the eve of furnish- 
ing them with a great deal more, or as a member of the patriot 
legislature, he would never have been allowed to pass freely 
in and out of their lines. In order to get at their deepest 
secrets he would have to take his chances whether he gave more 
than he obtained; and very likely it was sometimes one way 
and sometimes the other. 7 

It was a trying state of affairs in those years 1780 and 
1781 and the depths of human nature were stirred. It is 
probable that there was some one in the Congress, or in the inner 
circle of patriot counsel, who furnished valuable information to 
the enemy; for Clinton's knowledge of every detail of our plans 
and policy was accurate and complete, and as shown in the 
notes to Clinton's "Private Intelligence/' corresponded almost 
word for word with the instructions sent by the Congress to 
Washington. 8 

As we read on in the "Private Intelligence" we suddenly 
find that General Sullivan, now in the Congress, had become 
so alarmed over the gloomy prospects that he was anchoring to 
windward and expressing a willingness to favor reconciliation. 
Like some other members of the Congress, he was facing abject 
penury and he knew not what to do. The British learning of 
his condition, approached him through his brother, who was 

T Parsons is ably defended in Hall's life of him, chapter 24; and als6 
by G. B. Loring in " Vindication of S. H. Parsons." 

* Magazine of American History, vol. xi, p. 441 note. 



their prisoner; and Sullivan gave an account of the interview 
to Luzerne, the French minister. 

" They regard me," he said, " as the fittest man to negotiate a recon- 
ciliation between the mother country and the English colonies; that they 
wish me to make known my sentiments on this subject; . . . that I 
have only to state my wishes, . . . and that I may count on the pro- 
foundest secrecy." (Magazine of American History, vol. xi, p. 158.) 

He had rejected the offer with scorn, he said, but had not 
told the Congress of it "partly in order not to compromise my 
brother, partly in order not to make a parade of my own disin- 
terestedness, and partly because I thought it hazardous to 
announce with too much positiveness to my colleagues that the 
enemy was seeking a traitor among us and that his reward was 
ready.'* He had, therefore, he said, confided the particulars 
to Luzerne alone to put him on his guard against the enemy, 
and also on his guard against the Congress, in which other 
members had possibly been approached. 

The report, however, which his brother gave the British 
contains no mention of any rejection with scorn of the offer, 
but on the contrary, a willingness to consider it. Luzerne sus- 
pected the part of "rejection with scorn," and was confirmed 
in his suspicion when Sullivan went on to say that he intended 
to pretend to lend an ear to the overtures, to ask Clinton for 
a plan of reconciliation, sound the British disposition and 
"learn how far they intended to go in their concessions;" and 
he named four members of the Congress to whom he proposed 
to confide this project. 

Convinced that Sullivan's financial straits were leading him 
into a treacherous enterprise, Luzerne agreed to furnish him 
every six months with the same sum of money he had lent him 
the year before, and tried to dissuade him from further inter- 
course with the British. Sullivan gratefully accepted the 
money. The previous loan may have led him to give Luzerne 
the cautiously worded account of his project in order to obtain 
more money. Luzerne 's conduct was approved by the French 
Government, and he was instructed to continue Sullivan as a 



pensioner while he remained in the Congress to save him from 
treason to the cause of American independence. 

Sullivan did not formally promise Luzerne to abandon inter- 
course with the enemy, and some months afterwards in the 
summer of 1781, his brother reported him to Clinton as of the 
opinion that unless the French made very great exertions in 
America this summer, the Congress would be. torn to pieces and 
the people would return to British allegiance ; that the Congress 
was at present in great confusion, and that he was determined 
to take care of himself. 9 

When we consider all these circumstances of the times, we 
can appreciate more fully the meaning of one or two sentences 
in Washington's letters where he reminds some one that he has 
staked his all on the success of independence and is ready to 
go down with the cause. In the critical juncture of these last 
years when any moment might bring the end, when everything 
might depend on the turn of a hand, Washington had no 
anchors to windward; but fully conscious of the treachery 
which surrounded him, turned it to the use of the patriot cause 
with the subtlety of a Talleyrand combined with the reserved 
respectability of a Virginia country gentleman. 

Under all the circumstances he did wisely in having a secret 
service of his own managed by himself, and not trusting to a 
separate department of unknown subordinates who might do 
he knew not what. When it came to planning deep work for 
competent spies, there were few who could regulate it much 
better than Washington ; and he secured as exact and as com- 
plete information of Clinton's plans and movements as Clinton 
obtained of his. There were English officials like Heron's 
friend, ready to turn traitor at times and* reveal something; 
there were loyalists close to Clinton ready to furnish news in 
the hope of saving their American property from confiscation ; 
: there were doubtful and double-dealing characters of infinite 
cunning whose motives and desires could be played upon; there 

Magazine of American History, vol. xi, 156-160 and notes, 353, 
-.538, 539. 


were sincere patriots within the British lines trying to save 
their possessions. Information could be sent on the margins 
or blank leaves of almanacs or pamphlets. A letter could be 
written in loyalist style in ordinary ink and between the lines 
another letter written. in & colorless fluid, which became legible 
when exposed to heat or an acid. British emissaries, known to 
be in the American camp, were allowed to remain and filled 
with misleading information. Human ingenuity was ex- 
hausted ; and no means of deception left untried in the des- 
perate contest. 10 

10 Magazine of American History, vol. xi, pp. 58, 66. Clinton's 
" Private Intelligence " is printed in the Magazine of American History, 
vol. x, pp. 327, 409, 497; vol. xi, pp. 53, 156, 247, 342, 433, 533; vol. xii, 
pp. 72, 162; Onderdonk "Revolutionary Incidents of Long Island/' p. 85.; 
See also Barnum, "The Spy Unmasked;" Gordon, "American Revolu- 
tion," edition 1788, vol. iii, pp. 305, 372; Johnson, "Life of Greene," vol. 
ii, p. 386. 



THE finances of the Congress had been steadily failing ; its 
paper money, with which it kept its armies going, was steadily 
depreciating, and the time of the total extinction of that money 
was in sight. Loans had been obtained from various sources in 
America and Europe, supplies of military equipment obtained 
from France ; but all this was not enough. Both the resources 
and the credit of the patriot cause kept on sinking ; and Eng- 
land was watching this condition narrowly ; for if it continued 
it would certainly end the war. 

Even before the time of the French alliance the Congress 
had adopted the plan of drawing bills of exchange on Franklin 
to pay the interest on loans, and after the alliance this easy 
method was continued for all sorts of purposes besides the 
interest on loans. Franklin paid the bills by applying to them 
his own allowance or salary and obtaining the rest from the 
French Government. But as the amounts increased from year 
to year, with the failing fortunes of the cause, the French 
Government resisted this unlimited system ; and Franklin wrote 
letter after letter describing the unspeakable anxiety put upon 
him in his old age by this desperate system. His wonderful 
popularity in France, his high favor with Vergennes and the 
Court as well as his health and sanity were strained to the 
breaking point; and nothing shows his remarkable power as 
a man, a philosopher and a diplomatist than the way in which 
he bore this tremendous burden. 

In the autumn of 1779, however, depression had reached 
such a point that even the Congress saw that other methods 
must be adopted besides the plan of drawing on Franklin 



and France. As they had no money they adopted the plan 
of having the States furnish specific supplies of flour, corn, 
provisions, and cattle to be deposited at certain localities, which 
might at least feed the troops ; and the States were also asked 
to contribute tobacco because it could be sold for hard money 
in Europe or exchanged there for material and equipment 
that could not be obtained in America. A certain amount of 
produce was collected under this method; but it was on the 
whole a great failure, because there was no money to pay 
for hauling the supplies from place to place. 

At the same time in the autumn of 1779 the Congress 
decided that the drawing system, that was gradually killing 
Franklin, should be extended to two other countries, Holland 
and Spain, which were also deeply interested in breaking up 
the British Empire. For this purpose John Jay was sent in 
September as envoy to Spain and Henry Laurens was appointed 
agent to Holland in October. In November the Congress drew 
bills for 100,000 on each, although Laurens had not left the 
country and some of the bills were presented to him at his 
home in South Carolina. 

Laurens did not leave for Holland until August, 1780. John 
Adams meantime did the work of obtaining loans from Holland 
until Laurens should arrive. But Adams kept the position, 
for the mission of Laurens had a curious outcome. In crossing 
the ocean he was captured by a British cruiser, taken to Eng- 
land and imprisoned in the Tower of London for the rest of 
the war on a charge of high treason. He had destroyed most 
of his papers ; but the draft of a commercial treaty, prepared 
in some previous negotiations with Holland, which he threw 
overboard with other papers, was rescued before it sank by 
the British sailors. 1 

The draft of the treaty was signed by William Lee, the 

1 Magazine of American History, vol. 18, p. 1 ; Stunner, " Financier 
and Finances of American Revolution/ 5 vol. i, pp. 239-246, 247, 249, 250, 
252, 253. Annual Register, 1781, chaps, viii, ix. 



American agent who had conducted the negotiation for it, and 
by John de Neufville, a merchant of Amsterdam, acting for 
Van Berkel, grand pensionary of that city. It was a merely 
tentative proposal which was only to take effect when America 
became independent. But England and Holland had long been 
the great commercial rivals of the ocean. For many generations 
their navies had fought most desperate engagements. They 
had signed treaties of amity and friendship, and adopted a 
diplomatic intercourse of apparent good feeling, which ill 
concealed their intensity of hatred. In the beginning of the 
present war the Dutch had secretly assisted the Americans, 
and were now favoring the French. After the French alliance 
had been followed by the alliance of Spain with the Americans 
England demanded that the Dutch fulfil their treaty by which 
they had agreed to assist England if attacked by either France 
or Spain. But the Dutch refused compliance, and in March, 
1780, the British Government declared all treaties suspended. 

The English were longing for an excuse to attack the Dutch, 
and destroy their trade ; and the discovery of this half formed 
secret treaty with the Americans gave the opportunity. "With- 
out waiting for a formal declaration of war, a great parade 
was made of putting Laurens in the Tower for high treason, 
the British fleet seized two hundred Dutch merchant vessels 
with cargoes valued at five million dollars, and on the 20th 
of December war was declared. 

But before news of the declaration could reach St. Eustatius, 
a powerful British fleet under Eodney hastened to that famous 
Dutch island. It was a mere rocky patch, only six miles long 
by three wide ; but it had been the centre and seat of the Ameri- 
can smuggling trade against the British navigation laws, and 
recently the source of supplies which, Eodney said, "alone 
supported the infamous American rebellion." The trade 'of 
the island had grown prodigiously during the war, and mer- 
chandise lay in piles in the streets. But having only about 
fifty soldiers, it surrendered, and the British seized and con- 
fiscated every article of property on it, public and private, 
amounting to fifteen million dollars, even the private property 



of their own merchants. These English merchants Rodney 
regarded as mere traitors and criminals because they had made 
money in the illicit traffic with the Americans. They were 
proper subjects for plunder, he thought ; and when they 
remonstrated he told them, "The island is Dutch, everything 
in it is Dutch, and as Dutch you shall all be treated." He 
took one hundred and eighty merchant vessels, .seven Dutch 
men-of-war, about 2000 American merchants and sailors, 
turned all the people of the island adrift, and left nothing 
but the bare rocks. He kept the Dutch flag flying for two 
months, which decoyed into the trap some fifty American 
vessels loaded with the tobacco which was such a valuable 
means of obtaining hard money for the patriot Congress. 

The spoil was immense. The King generously relinquished 
the Crown's share to the captors, and Eodney saw a chance for 
a fortune. He remained for months at the island securing his 
share of the plunder and leaving the protection of the British 
"West Indies to his subordinate Hood, who had not force enough 
to resist the French fleet under De Grasse. A large part of 
the share of the spoil of Eustatius that had been secured by 
Eodney and his officers was sent to England on 34 vessels 
under convoy of Admiral Hotham; but he was overtaken by 
a French fleet under La Motte Piquet, who captured twenty 
of the ships. 

England was striking the Dutch heavy blows and soon after 
swept up all their settlements on the Demerary and Essequibo 
rivers in Surinam. In the West Indies Eodney finally left the 
plundering of Eustatius and joined Hood. They prevented 
the French from retaking St. Lucia, but could not prevent them 
from taking the English island of Tobago. It- was a close and 
terrible struggle. The secret "hostility to England of Prussia 
and Eussia and the open war of Spain, France and Holland 
might be supposed capable of crushing the British Empire of 
that time ; and yet those combined enemies appeared to be in 
no way accomplishing that result. A French expedition against 
the island of Jersey in the English Channel signally failed with 



heavy loss. Great Britain was certainly maintaining herself 
against her numerous enemies with unexampled energy. 2 

Cornwallis was vigorously stamping out patriotism in South 
Carolina. He directed that those militiamen who had borne 
arms with the British and afterwards joined Gates, should be 
hanged; that civilians who had submitted to the British and 
afterwards joined Gates should be imprisoned, and all their 
property should be taken away from them or destroyed. The 
horrible severity, executions and suffering which followed these 
orders aroused a most violent controversy and discussion which 
never fails to appear when such methods are used for bringing 
a people into subjection. Loyalists, like Judge Jones, as well as 
patriots like Gordon, thought that milder methods would have 
been better calculated to pacify the people of the South. 

But neither Cornwallis, nor Clinton, nor the Ministry under 
whose instructions they acted, took this view; and indeed all 
history shows that the passion for independence can be stamped 
out of a community only by the utmost severity and cruelty. 
At the surrender of Charleston the continental troops were 
kept as prisoners ; but the patriot militia were allowed to return 
to their homes on a parole, that so long as they refrained from 
taking up arms against Great Britain they should remain unmo- 
lested in person and property. This parole was afterwards 
annulled by the British, and the patriot militia were told that 
the state being conquered, they were British subjects, and were 
expected to fight with the British army. If they refused they 
were imprisoned and terrorized by starvation and misery into 
enlisting or taking the British oath of allegiance. 

"Then followed a system of enticement and menace, of corruption 
and terror, as either seemed best suited to the occasion. It would be long 
to tell the full story of these disgraceful scenes, how some were tortured 
by confinement in prison ships in the midst of small pox and putrid fever; 
how some were sent to languish in St. Augustine, in open violation of the 

' American Historical Review, vol. viii, p. 683; Id., April, 1894, 
article, " Frederick the Great and the American Revolution ; " Stedman, 
"American War," vol. ii, pp. 262, 271-274, 277, 279-289; Annual 
Register, 1781, chap, vi; Clowes, "Royal Navy," vol. iii, pp. 480-488; 
Beatson, Memoirs. 



articles of capitulation, and tortured the while by false stories of Ameri- 
can defeat and disaster. It was a trying situation even for the bravest 
and most resolute. The preservation of their property, the protection of 
their families, the immediate enjoyment of personal freedom, the 
apparent hopelessness of further resistance, pleaded warmly with them 
for submission." (G. W. Greene, " Life of General Greene," vol. iii, p. 

Many yielded and took the oath of allegiance to save their 
property, or their families. "I sign this hateful allegiance," 
said Colonel Isaac Hayne, "for my wife and children's sake, 
loving my country still as I have always loved her/' He re- 
turned to his plantation where he remained quietly, watching, 
like thousands of others, for a good opportunity to fight on the 
patriot side in spite of his oath of allegiance. When the dis- 
trict in which he lived was conquered by the patriots he be- 
lieved that by the laws of war he was relieved from his oath 
of allegiance. He fought on the patriot side, was captured 
by the English, and hung under circumstances which aroused a 
world-wide controversy, and such indignation among Southern- 
ers that a few months afterwards they wanted to retaliate 
by hanging Lord Cornwallis when he surrendered at Yorktown. 

The Ministry approved of all the severity, and said that it 
would undoubtedly restore allegiance and order in the- province. 
They prepared to send out a lieutenant-governor and instructed 
Cornwallis to turn the conduct of affairs into the hands of the 
civil authorities as soon as possible. 3 

A regular system was inaugurated for the confiscation of all 
the estates of patriots as -had been done in Ireland. Prominent 
and wealthy patriot citizens of South Carolina, officials of the 
former patriot government, planters and merchants who after 
the surrender of Charleston had been paroled and were now 

8 G. W. Greene, "Life of General Greene," vol. Hi, p. 357; B. F. 
Stevens, " Clinton-Cornwallis Controversy," vol. i, pp. 291, 292; Stedman, 
"American War/ 5 vol. ii, p. 214; Tarleton, Narrative, p. 187; Gordon, 
"American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, pp. 454, 486; vol. iv, pp. 
102, 164 ; Johnson, ee Life of Greene," pp. 279-285 ; Lee, Memoirs, vol. ii, 
pp. 253-73; "Life of Boudinot," vol. i, p. 242, als6 Boudinbt's Journal, 
p. 59. 



living quietly in that town were suddenly seized in -the night 
and carried to St. Augustine, Florida, their houses searched 
and their papers examined. Their silent influence and example,' 
as well as their secret correspondence, Cornwallis said, en- 
couraged patriotism, and he must get them out of the way in 
order to bring the country to subjection. 

In his negotiations with Spain for further assistance, John 
Jay had been instructed by the Congress not to yield on the 
question of the free navigation of the Mississippi River, which 
Spain was inclined to restrict, as part of the price of her aid.' 
But for the sake of greater assistance from Spain which, might 
relieve the condition in South Carolina and Georgia, the south- 
ern members of Congress in the autumn of 1780 favored an 
abandonment of our claim to free navigation. 

At this same time the Empress Catherine of Russia had sug- 
gested to the powers of Europe a mediation to stop the war. 
It is supposed to have been ambition for distinction on her 
part, rather than any prospect of success, which led her into this 
movement which was carried on with discussion and exchange 
of diplomatic documents from the autumn of 1780 until the 
summer of 1781. England accepted the offer of mediation, hop- 
ing that it would weaken patriot and French efforts and bring 
about a favorable compromise. 

To prevent it weakening the patriot cause in the South, the 
southern members of Congress were ready to buy greater assist- 
ance from Spain at almost any price, and the sacrifice of the 
free navigation of their great river was a high price for them 
to pay. What they particularly feared was that if the media- 
tion went on and the powers of Europe united in ending the 
war, England would claim that as she was in actual possession 
of two southern provinces she was entitled to keep them and 
could be asked to surrender to independence only the northern 
states where she had not obtained a foothold. This was so 
entirely consistent with the principles of international law that 
tfte European powers could hardly reject it ; and the ,obvious 
course .for the patriots to pursue was to break by some means 
the British hold in -the South before the mediation movement 



reached a point where England could insist on her claim of 

In the following summer the mediation movement came to 
naught, because the Congress and France continued to insist 
on independence without compromise and this England would 
not accept. But it is important to remember that from the 
autumn of 1780 until the summer of 1781, this mediation move- 
ment hung over the patriot cause like a cloud and additional 
danger, which had considerable influence on policy and was a 
most powerful incentive to General Greene in his campaigns 
against the British in the South.* 

4 Madison Papers, vol. i, pp. 64, 74, and appendix No. 4; Wharton, 
''Diplomatic Correspondence of the Revolution," vol. iv, pp. 78. 257, 
440-449, 455, 456, 477, 480, 502-505, 509, 514, 560, 561, 571-577, 589-596, 
610, 612, 619-621, 628, 684, 695, 699, 705, 711-715, 720-722, 773, 776, 
859-867; John Jay, Correspondence, vol. ii, p. 206. 



THE depressed state of the patriot cause continued through 
the autumn of 1780 and the spring and part of the summer of 
1781. But during all that time a change, unknown to the 
patriots, was taking place in Clinton's policy. The change 
was most favorable to the patriots, but its results were not 
immediately apparent. 

The defeat of Gates, his abandonment of Charlotte and his 
retreat northward to Hillsboro had left the southern part 
of North Carolina wide open to invasion, and it seemed to 
Cornwallis that it should be the next jewel to be added to the 
British crown. But when he thus cast his eyes northward he 
was verging upon disobedience of orders. Clinton, the com- 
mander-in-ehief, had specially instructed him to make the 
security of South Carolina his primary object and to allow noth- 
ing to interfere with that purpose ; and Cornwallis had accepted 
these instructions and agreed to carry them out. Clinton's 
plan of warfare, as we have already seen, was to hold fast to 
what was already gained and not be in haste to add more con- 
quests unless a particularly favorable and sure opportunity 
should occur. The next opportunity of this sort, he thought, 
would be in the little state of Delaware which was strongly 
loyalist; and he expected to occupy it with troops in the fol- 
lowing spring or summer. But he was fully persuaded that 
even without Delaware, and holding firmly only Georgia, South 
Carolina and the City of New York, he could in time wear 
down the patriot party and save for England a large part, if 
not all, of the rebellious colonies. He could win in the end, he 
said, by simply holding what he had and folding his arms. 

He, however, would of course be glad to conquer North 



Carolina, if an opportunity was presented, and lie told Corn- 
wallis that it might perhaps be possible to conquer it with the 
assistance of its loyalists. He also hoped to make an attack on 
Virginia, provided there was no danger from a French fleet 
occupying Chesapeake Bay. But the holding of South Carolina 
was the principal object, and North Carolina and Virginia 
secondary. No aggressive action must be taken which was 
inconsistent with the security of South Carolina. As for Vir- 
ginia, nothing could be accomplished there, unless there was 
a superior British fleet in possession of Chesapeake Bay; 
for a British army of occupation in that state would starve 
to death or be cut off unless it had full communication with 
the sea. 1 

Cornwallis, on the other hand, had been acquiring a great 
contempt for this conservative and defensive policy; and he 
called it "mere tobacco stealing/' referring no doubt to the 
system of raiding which had accompanied it in the beginning. 
It was entirely too slow for him. He believed that conquest 
should be actively extended and the war made more aggressive; 
and his plan was to take both North Carolina and Virginia. 
So long as the patriots were unsubdued in North Carolina, they 
would, he believed, endanger the posts in South Carolina. 
Unless we take North Carolina, he said, "we must give up both 
South Carolina and Georgia and retire within the walls of 

North Carolina was the most difficult of the southern states 
to conquer because its vast distances and widely scattered popu- 
lation could not be controlled from the sea. England was en- 
tirely dependent on the sea as her base ; and the Revolution was 
essentially a naval war. North Carolina had only one port, 
Wilmington, which gave no military access to the rest of the 
state and did not affect the state's commerce or supplies. The 
state, as Harry 'Lee said, could be assailed only "through Vir- 

*B. F. Stevens, " Clinton-Cornwallis Controversy," vol. i, pp. 43 
note, 213, 214, 215. 

Vol. 1122 337 


ginia or South Carolina, through each of which her foreign 
commerce passes." 2 

Cornwallis regarded the conquest of North Carolina as a 
mere incident to the taking of Virginia, which was, he said, the 
home of patriotism in the South and the key to the situation. 
He was impatient of Clinton's studious care in holding fast to 
South Carolina and Georgia; for if Virginia were taken, the 
rest of the South, Cornwallis said, "would "fall without much 
resistance and be retained without much difficulty." 3 

In this he was totally mistaken, and his idea of the impor- 
tance of Virginia was contrary to the views of both Washington 
and Clinton and the best military opinion of the time. Vir- 
ginia, by her strong patriotism and eminent men, was, it is true, 
of much moral importance to the patriot cause. But it was 
Charleston, and not Virginia, that was the military key to the 
South; and Charleston, as Washington and Rochambeau ex- 
plained to De G-rasse, was of vast importance to the British. 

"It is the centre of their power in the south. By holding it they 
preserve a dangerous influence throughout the whole State, as it is the 
only port, and the only place from whence the people can procure those 
articles of foreign produce, which are essential to their support; * and it 
in great measure serves to cover and keep in subjection the State of 
Georgia. From thence the enemy can also establish small posts in North 
Carolina; and if they maintain a post in Chesapeake, they keep up the 
appearance of possessing 400 miles upon the coast, and of consequence 
have a pretext for setting up claims, which may be very detrimental to 
the interests of America in European Councils." (Writings of Washing- 
ton, Ford edition, vol. 9, p. 339.) 

We are therefore at a very critical point, a turning point in 
the war and in Clinton's plans, because the general entrusted to 
carry out those plans despises them. This might not have been 
so serious in itself ; for it is by no means an unheard of thing 
for a subordinate to despise the plans of his superior. But Lord 

*In those times the people of North Carolina sold their crops and 
bought their supplies in Charleston. Graham, " The Mecklenburg Declara- 
tion of Independence/' p. 27. 

3 B. F. Stevens, " Clinton-Cornwallis Controversy/' vol. i, pp. 70, 66, 
225, 237, 238, 259, 268; Lee, Memoirs, vol. i, pp. 232, 233. 



Cornwallis was influential and powerful, both as a politician 
and as a member of the British aristocracy, and he was also 
in the very unusual position of being able to communicate 
directly with the home government and discuss with them the 
whole military situation in America, without any previous con- 
sultation with Clinton. 

This extraordinary arrangement which produced such mo- 
mentous results in our history was due in some degree to a 
mistake made by Clinton, with very good intentions and in 
perfect good faith. For the sake of saving time in the trans- 
mission of despatches, which in the ordinary course would be 
sent to New York and thence to the Ministry in England, Clin- 
ton gave Cornwallis permission to send reports directly to the 
Ministry in addition to sending reports to New York. Corn- 
wallis took full advantage of this permission to ingratiate him- 
self with the Ministry. He even went beyond the permission 
and took other means ; for on two occasions he sent a confiden- 
tial aide-de-camp across the water to represent his plans and 
interests and press them directly upon the home government. 

That the Ministry allowed the subordinate to do this and 
become independent of his commander-in-chief was a tribute to 
the strong influence of Cornwallis as a nobleman and a politi- 
cian, and helps to explain why he rose to such high office and im- 
portant commands after the Eevolution, in spite of his surren- 
der at Yorktown. It also shows the loose and irregular fashion 
in which the British Government was administered under uni- 
versal bribery and corruption by the men of fashion, who com- 
posed the ruling class. These influences and the exaggerated 
impression of his victory over Gates at Camden, put Cornwallis 
in a position to undermine his superior officer. 

The Ministry and the King had for some time, it is said, 
entertained the same opinion as Cornwallis as to the importance 
of Virginia and they were pleased to find that his Lordship 
agreed with. them. Since his victory over Gates at Camden they 
were inclined to think that he might be the great military genius 
who would save America. A few years before some of the 
patriot party had believed Gates superior to Washington 



because Gates had beaten Burgoyne at Saratoga, and so now the 
Ministry believed that Cornwallis was superior to Clinton 
because Cornwallis had defeated Gates at Camden.* 

The defeat of Gates at Camden was really a patriot victory 
in disguise ; for it gave Cornwallis an overweening confidence in 
himself as the general of the most remarkable victory of the 
war and led the Ministry to substitute his absurd plans for 
the more soldierlike and scientific policy of Clinton. Very soon 
the Ministry directed Cornwallis to disregard the plan of his 
superior officer, and they directed Clinton to support the plan 
of his subordinate. 

So disgusted was Clinton with this withdrawal of confidence 
from him, that he said he would have resigned and turned over 
his command to Cornwallis if he had been near enough to him ; 
and he suspected that Cornwallis surmised this and was anxious 
to reach Virginia in the hope of being near enough to the com- 
mander-in-chief to receive his resignation. 6 

The gossip of the time pointed to the old quarrel between 
Clinton and one of the ministers, Lord George Germain. Clin- 
ton, it will be remembered, went to England in the early part 
of the war intending to fight a duel with Germain if he would 
not make amends for garbled extracts of one of Clinton's letters, 
which he had published. Germain, to avoid the duel, made 
ample amends and secured Clinton's admission to the Order of 
the Bath. When, therefore, said the gossips, Cornwallis began 
to argue to the Ministry against Clinton and his plans, Germain 
lent a willing ear and readily consented to encourage the sub- 
ordinate at the expense of the superior. 

In the early summer of 1780, after Cornwallis had taken 
command in South Carolina, he began to receive repeated mes- 
sages from the North Carolina loyalists expressing their impa- 

4 B. F. Stevens, " Clinton-Cornwallis Controversy," vol. i, pp. 42, 43 
note, 144, 355; vol. ii, pp. 16 and notes, 134 notes. 

5 In the summer of 1779 Clinton had written to the Ministry a letter 
of rather fulsome eulogy of Gornwallis, and asked leave 'to resign in his 
lordship's favor, but permission was refused; Writings of Washington, 
Ford edition, vol. viii, pp. 45, 46 notes. 



tienee to rise and join the King's standard. Several premature 
risings occurred which seemed to indicate large numbers. A 
Colonel Bryan collected about eight hundred loyalists at the 
forks of the Yadkin and came down into South Carolina. There 
was also another considerable rising in Tryon County, which 
was, however, routed and scattered by the patriots. 

Cornwallis replied to all the loyalist overtures by restrain- 
ing their ardor for the present, because there were not enough 
supplies either at Camden or in North Carolina to support 
the large loyalist army that seemed to be promised. He urged 
them to remain quiet for the present until the crops of that 
year were harvested and then he would join them. 

He was greatly surprised, however, that when Gates was 
marching to attack Camden these devoted loyalists sent no 
word of his movements. When Gates was defeated on the 16th 
of August, it seemed to be the nick of time for the rising of 
the loyalists and Cornwallis sent word to them to stand forth 
and prevent the reunion of the scattered patriot forces. So 
confident was he that they would now show themselves in great 
numbers that he believed that he could carry out his plans for 
conquering Virginia, as well as North Carolina, and he sent a 
message to New York urging Clinton to send as large a force 
as he could spare to Virginia. With such a force in Virginia 
and himself at the head of a vast loyalist horde sweeping up 
to cooperate with it from North Carolina, his Lordship foresaw 
that Virginia, the pivotal southern state, was doomed, and that 
the whole country south of Pennsylvania would acknowledge 
the mild and beneficent sway of George III. 6 

But again he was disappointed. The loyalists did little 
or nothing against Gates 's scattered army, and in the language 
of one of Cornwallis 's officers not a single loyalist attempted 
to improve the favorable moment or obey that summons for 
which they had before been so impatient. Thinking that the 
presence of his army in North Carolina would encourage them, 

e B. F. Stevens, " Clinton-Cornwallis Controversy," vol. i, pp. 277, 278, 
272, 224, 233, 239, 242, 243, 245, 261, 264, 269. 



Cornwallis now sent messengers to tell them that he was coming, 
and, about a month after the defeat of Gates, he marched into 
the state and on the 26th of September, 1780, occupied Char- 
lotte. It was the worst place he could have selected for his 
purpose, because the region round it, Rowan and Mecklenburg 
counties, was the most strongly patriot part of North Caro- 
lina. It would have been better and more encouraging to the 
loyalists to have gone to Cross Creek, now Fayetteville, or some 
other point where loyalism was almost universal. 7 

He was now out of South Carolina, his first and most impor- 
tant care, and may be said to have been testing his new plans to 
see if he really could invade Virginia and take North Carolina 
on the way. But during his whole stay at Charlotte there was 
none of the uprising of loyalists that was expected, and in 
making this North Carolina experiment he had committed a 
serious blunder in allowing Major Ferguson to invade North 
Carolina farther to the westward, and occupy an isolated 
position with a comparatively small force. 

This was that same Ferguson, said to have invented a breech 
loading rifle and much interested in that sort of weapon, who 
as a captain had conducted the raid and prisoner killing expe- 
dition at Egg Harbor in New Jersey. Since the taking of 
Charleston, he, and a Colonel Hanger, had been given large 
duties of civil and military organization in the region round 
Ninety-Six, where the inhabitants were mostly loyalists. He 
was to receive submission, administer oaths of allegiance, inspect 
and report on the quantity of grain and number of cattle, per- 
form the marriage ceremony and most important of all recruit 
and drill a good body of loyalist militia. 

He was most diligent and successful in all these duties, 
organizing seven battalions of loyalist militia, consisting of 
about 4000 men who could furnish 1500 under arms at short 
notice. He would sit for hours with people of all classes to 
discuss public affairs with that air of sympathy and condescen- 

T Tarleton, " Narrative," pp. 160, 168. 



sion which has so often been used by his nation to show the 
superiority of subjection over the crudeness, uncertainties and 
hazards of independence. 8 

As early as July, 1780, he had begun moving northward 
from Ninety-Six, with some of his recruited loyalists, for the 
purpose of pacifying the country and coming in contact with 
more of its people. He wanted to go forward and take them all 
by the hand to show the good intentions of government; and 
he was greatly encouraged by the uprisings of loyalists under 
Bryan and the Moores which occurred about this time. But 
as he evidently intended to enter western North Carolina, the 
patriots of that state organized themselves to oppose him. They 
had for their partisan leader Colonel Charles McDowell; and 
he immediately sent for the assistance of the over-mountain 
men, who had recently settled in what is now eastern Tennes- 
see, on the other side of those North Carolina mountains which 
in our time have been such a favorite resort of tourists and 
health seekers. 9 

The over-mountain Scotch-Irish settlers, who, as we have 
already seen, had helped to check the Cherokees from going to 
the assistance of the British, would prove to be a valuable force 
if they could see their own interest in preventing the near 
approach of Ferguson to their homes. Their Deckard rifles, 
their experience in Indian fighting and their combination of the 
qualities of hunter, farmer and horseman, were sorely needed 
by the North Carolina patriots, who were comparatively few 
and scattered, and much crippled in their organization by the 
multitudes of loyalists in all their communities. 

Strong appeals were made to the over-mountain leaders, 
Shelby, Sevier and Robertson; and two of them, Shelby and 
Eobertson with several hundred riflemen, soon joined McDowell, 
who thus had about 1000 men to oppose Ferguson's 1500 
loyalist militia. 

'Draper, "King's Mountain and Its Heroes, 5 ' pp. 68, 69, 72, 73, 142; 
" Life of Colonel Hanger," p. 176. 

* Draper, " King's Mountain and Its Heroes," p. 84. 



McDowell was considered a rather inactive partisan leader ; 
but two of his subordinates, Shelby and Clarke, made expedi- 
tions close to Ferguson *s lines. In two minor engagements, 
Cedar Springs and Wofford's Iron Works, they gained no ad- 
vantage; but in two other expeditions they were eminently 

One of these expeditions of 600 men under Shelby went to 
Thickety Fort, a loyalist post in South Carolina, and com- 
pelled its surrender on the 13th of July without firing a shot. 
In August Shelby and Clarke made an attempt on the loyalists 
at Musgrove's Mill on the Enoree in the rear of Ferguson's 
main force. Failing to surprise their enemy and learning that 
he was not only aware of their presence but had been reinforced, 
they protected themselves by a breastwork of logs and brush 
where the loyalists attacked them and suffered a severe repulse 
from the sharp-shooting of the riflemen. There has been much 
difference of opinion as to the losses; but it is probable that 
the loyalists had sixty-three Mlled, ninety wounded and seventy 
made prisoners, while the Americans had only four killed and 
eight wounded. 

So elated were Shelby and Clarke with this success in Fer- 
guson's rear, that they were consulting about making a dash 
at Ninety-Six, only twenty-five miles distant, when a messenger 
from McDowell brought them word of Gates 's overwhelming 
defeat by Cornwallis at Camden two days before, on the 16th of 

McDowell's message also advised an immediate return or 
they would be cut off. He himself was already retreating north- 
ward to Gilbert Town on the eastern edge of the mountains; 
and soon after when Shelby and Clarke had started for the 
same place they found themselves pursued by Ferguson, who 
was only half an hour behind them when he abandoned the 

Shelby and Clarke reached North Carolina with their men 
completely exhausted, with eyes and faces swollen by their race 
for life through the heat: and they were sick from living on 



nothing but green corn and peaches which they snatched from 
the trees and corn stalks as they rode along. 10 

Shelby, McDowell and all the other leaders now decided to 
raise a large force from both sides of the mountains to check 
Ferguson. But for the present there was a general scattering 
and returning home of both McDowell's force and the over- 
mountain men, while messages were sent in every direction to 
raise the new and larger army. 

Ferguson took advantage of the dispersion to advance into 
North Carolina, marching by night to avoid the heat ; and his 
loyalist detachments spread out far, overawing patriot families, 
seizing prominent men, administering the oath of allegiance to 
those who submitted and punishing the unyielding by seizure 
or destruction of their property, while many of the patriot men 
became "out liers" in the woods, not daring to visit their homes 
except with the greatest caution and secrecy. 

In this way Ferguson reached Gilbert Town, described in the 
diary of Allaire, one of his lieutenants, as consisting of a dwell- 
ing house, a barn and a blacksmith shop. It was near the 
modern Eutherfordton on the edge of the western mountains, 
not very far eastward of the modern Asheville. 

This isolated move into western North Carolina may have 
been encouraged if not suggested by Cornwallis's victory over 
Gates at Camden ; for soon after that victory Ferguson seems to 
have visited Cornwallis, and on his return to his loyalist militia 
they moved rapidly northward. 11 

Considerable numbers of the inhabitants of the Gilbert 
Town region are said to have come in, submitted and taken the 
British oath of allegiance. Five hundred of them, Allaire says, 
arrived during one day. Many of them were patriots who after- 
wards explained their submission as an act of necessity to pro- 
tect their families and property. In fact McDowell had recom- 
mended this course as a device to save the patriot stock of cattle 
from being seized by the British. The prominent patriots came 

10 Draper, "King's Mountain and Its Heroes," pp. 87, 88, 89, 103- 
118, 120, 121, 122 and note, 502, 503. 
u Draper, id., pp. 505, 506. 



to an understanding among themselves. Some hid their cattle 
in the deep valleys of the mountains and remained avowed 
patriots, while others who could not do this went to Ferguson 
and saved their stock by taking his oath. A prominent descend- 
ant of one of these patriots who took the oath fought a duel 
in modern times, and killed his antagonist, who had charged 
him with having a loyalist for a father. 12 

It was now the beginning of September, and Cornwallis in 
writing to Clinton of this isolated movement by Ferguson 
with a small force into western North Carolina admitted its 
danger. "Ferguson," he says, "is to move into Tryon County 
with some militia, whom he says he is sure he can depend upon 
for doing their duty; but I am sorry to say that his own experi- 
ence, as well as that of every other officer, is totally against 
him." 18 

One would suppose that holding such a very positive opinion 
it would have been the duty of Cornwallis to forbid this isolated 
movement by Ferguson or to order his return. The fighting 
qualities of the North Carolina and over-mountain riflemen and 
the inefficiency of Ferguson's loyalist militia had already been 
tested at Thickety Fort and Musgrove's Mill. But Cornwallis, 
with his eyes open to the danger, seems to have permitted Fer- 
guson to risk himself almost in the heart of the country of the 
famous riflemen. Stedman explains that the general plan of 
Cornwallis was to march his main army into the most patriotic 
part of the state near Charlotte and Salisbury, having on his 
right the loyalist section near Cross Creek and on his left 
another strongly loyalist section in Tryon County. If he could 
with his main army reduce to obedience the patriotic section, 
communication could be opened between the loyalist sections 
on the right and left, and such powerful assistance derived from 
their cooperation that the speedy reduction of the whole prov- 
ince could be reasonably expected- 14 

u Draper, "King's Mountain and Its Heroes," pp. 147, 149, 150, 508. 
M Ross, "Correspondence of Cornwallis," vol. i, pp. 58, 59. 
"Gordon, "American Bevolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, pp. 450-461; 
B. P. Stevens, " Clinton-Cornwallis Controversy," vol. i, p. 267 ; Draper, 



Ferguson's detachment penetrated westward into the moun- 
tains as far as Old Fort on the western side of the present 
McDowell County. He was led to venture so far, it was said, 
in the hope of cutting off the retreat of a certain Colonel Clark, 
a native of Georgia who in September had collected a partisan 
force of about 500 patriots and made a daring raid into Georgia 
in the hope of taking Augusta, garrisoned by loyalists under a 
rather capable loyalist officer Colonel Brown. It was a reckless, 
ill-advised expedition, failed utterly in its attack on Augusta 
and was driven off with heavy loss. The unarmed inhabitants 
who had favored or assisted it were treated with great severity 
by the British and thirty of them hung. 15 

Ferguson believed that everything was favoring the British 
and he boldly announced the rebellion ended and the country 
both conquered and pacified. He visited patriot families in 
person, treating them with the most kindly consideration and 
advising them to recall their husbands or sons who were 
"out liers." 

Many tales and traditions of his doings and character were 
preserved among the scattered families of the region. One of 
his officers was taken with the dreaded smallpox and to prevent 
contagion was left in a deserted house with his favorite horse, 
where both perished in silence and solitude ; for neither patriot 
nor loyalist would go near them. 

One of the most curious traditions was of one of his officers, 
Major Dunlap, a loyalist much hated by the patriots for his 
cruelty and methods of thoroughness. Badly wounded, he was 
left with a loyalist family, where he was killed, it is said, on 
his bed by a young patriot, Captain Gillespie, who came all the 
way from South Carolina to avenge himself for his sweetheart 
whom Dunlap had seized and kept under restraint till she died. 
Other traditions describe his violent death in other ways; the 

" King's Mountain and Its Heroes," pp. 200, 508, 509 ; Lee, Memoirs, vol. 
i, p. 205; Stedman, "American War," vol. ii, p. 219; Johnson, "Life of 
Greene," pp. 289, 290, 311 note. 

"Draper, id., pp. 118, 119, 140, 142, 144, 147, 150; Stedman, "Ameri- 
can War," vol. ii, p. 215. 



blood stain on the floor was pointed out, and since the house 
was torn down the bloo'd stained plank has been preserved. But 
Major Dunlap afterwards fought in the British army at the 
close of the Eevolution, was taken prisoner and murdered by 
his guards for his notorious severities. The tradition of his 
death in North Carolina was probably a device of the mountain 
loyalists to ensure his safe return to the British army after 
Ferguson had departed. 

It was no doubt a delightful and adventurous outing for 
Ferguson in that picturesque mountain region with its charm- 
ing climate, which is now sought by both northern and southern 
tourists at all seasons of the year. Englishmen are always fas- 
cinated by these excursions into wild regions, especially if the 
region belongs to another people ; and possibly the fascination 
in this instance blinded them to the military situation. 

Ferguson was inclined to be extremely liberal and pardon 
every one, and it was noticed that he signed the paroles and 
protections with his left hand ; for his right arm had been shat- 
tered at Brandywine. Slender, of only medium height and with 
a rather grave face and of no commanding presence, he never- 
theless appears to have been capable of winning considerable 
popularity. He was no doubt zealous and capable as a subor- 
dinate within a narrow sphere. But his grasp of general con- 
ditions could not have been very comprehensive or he never 
would have supposed that his little party of less than a thousand 
loyalists could . safely hold western North Carolina. Filled 
with an unusual measure of over confidence he was so sure of 
his work of subjugation that he actually declined the services 
of a freshly recruited troop of loyalist cavalry. 



FERGUSON believed that his plans of easy subjugation could 
be extended across the mountains into Tennessee, and he paroled 
one of his prisoners, Samuel Phillips, and sent him with a mes- 
sage to Shelby, Sevier and the other leaders, that "if they did 
not desist from their opposition to the British arms, he would 
march his army over the mountains, hang their leaders and lay 
their country waste with fire and sword. 5 ' 

The over-mountain men had fully intended to move eastward 
again and this message reminded them of 'their resolve, and 
hastened their preparations. Messages were sent northward 
into Southwestern Virginia for the frontiersmen under Colonel 
"William Campbell, who had recently been engaged in prevent- 
ing the loyalists from capturing the Chiswell lead mines of that 
region from which large quantities of lead, were procured for 
all the patriot armies. To buy equipment and supplies all the 
public money in the over-mountain treasury was taken; and 
Shelby and Sevier pledged themselves to refund it or obtain 
an act of the North Carolina legislature approving this use 
of it. 1 

The over-mountain and Virginia forces were all united on 
the 25th of September at Sycamore Flats, on the Watauga River 
in East Tennessee, near the present village of Elizabethtown, 
where the McDowell men had for some time been encamped. 
After a stirring appeal by their Presbyterian minister from the 
text "The sword of the Lord and of Gideon/ 5 they all started 
eastward by the nearest pass, just north of Roan -Mountain, 
and followed a stream called Doe River, which at this point 
breaks through .the , range. 

1 Draper, "King's Mountain and Its Heroes," pp. 151-153, 169 s , 528, 
540, 541, 547, 562-564. 

' ! 349 , 


Besides his blanket and rifle each man carried on his horse 
a bag of parched corn mixed with maple syrup. They tried at 
first to have cattle driven in their rear ; but abandoned them to 
prevent delay ; so that the parched corn and the game they shot 
was their sole supply of food. Each man was acting largely for 
himself and set out in quest of Ferguson as though he were a 
personal enemy or a fat bear, 2 

Less than three days after they started Ferguson and his 
loyalist officers heard of their coming from two deserters. It 
was a rude awakening from his dream of conquest; and was 
even worse than he supposed, for a North Carolina force under 
two partisan leaders, Cleveland and Winston, was marching 
towards him, and another patriot partisan corps from South 
Carolina, under Williams, Hill and Lacey, was also on its way; 
and yet he had felt so secure that he had given leave to some 
of his loyalist troops to visit their families. 

He now hurriedly sent out messengers calling on all loyalists 
to rally to the Royal Standard ; and possibly he hoped for one 
of those great uprisings of loyalism which had been so long 
expected. He abandoned his post at Gilbert Town and instead 
of going directly eastward to Cornwallis at Charlotte, which 
was about seventy miles away, he marched southward towards 
Ninety-Six for the purpose it seems of misleading the over- 
mountain men, and also in the hope of intercepting the force 
of the patriot partisan Clark, who was coming up from his 
attempt on Augusta in Georgia. 

Three days later, hearing that the Back Water men, 8 as he 
called them, were following him, Ferguson sent word of his 
danger to Cornwallis and another message to Ninety-Six calling 
for reinforcements. He issued a proclamation calling on the 

* Draper, "King's Mountain and Its Heroes," pp. 174, 175, 535, 
563, 564. 

* The over-mountain people were called Back Water men, apparently, 
because they lived beyond the sources of the eastern rivers, and on waters 
which flowed into the Mississippi. They were also called by Cornwallis 
Back Mountain men. In modern books they have sometimes been spoken 
of as mountaineers, and many have assumed that they were very much 
the same curious people that we have known of in our own time in the 



loyalists to rise and withstand "the inundation of barbarians 
who by their shocking cruelties and irregularities give the best 
proof of their cowardice j" and then after loitering for several 
days in the hope of receiving recruits or intercepting Clark, 
he turned eastward along the border of South Carolina to seek 
safety with Cornwallis at Charlotte, assuming that his pur- 
suers would suppose that he had continued southward to Ninety 
Six. He sent another message to Cornwallis saying that he was 
coming by the road which led north of King's Mountain and 
suggesting that reinforcements be sent to meet him. 

King's Mountain is a range some sixteen miles long, extend- 
ing in a northeastwardly and southwesterly direction across the 
border of the two Carolinas. While passing along the part of 
the range in South Carolina, Ferguson's attention was attracted 
by a low spur of only about sixty feet elevation, narrow and 
about six hundred yards long, and here he decided to stop, wait 
for reinforcements and fight the pursuing riflemen under 
Shelby, Campbell and Sevier. 

Meantime the Tennessee and Virginia riflemen had been 
joined by Colonel Benjamin Cleveland's North Carolinians 
from the Upper Tadkin Valley. The combined forces elected 
as commander the leader of the Virginia contingent, Colonel 
William Campbell, who was a typical raw-boned Scotch Irish- 
man of Western Virginia, of good education, like so many of 
the Presbyterian Scotch Irish, and fond of military life and 
frontier politics. Cleveland who led the Tadkin Valley troops 
had been a hunter of many adventures, a rollicking horse 
racing frontiersman, strongly attracted like so many daring 
spirits by the abundance of game and the invigorating fresh- 

Tennessee and Carolina Mountains, and about whom some very striking 
stories and novels have been written. But very few people lived in the 
mountains at the time of the Revolution, and the Back Water men were 
merely North Carolinians, mostly of Scoteh-Irish stock, who had crossed 
the mountains to enjoy the level and fertile lands of Tennessee, in the 
same way that the Virginians who followed Boone, crossed the mountains 
into Kentucky. 



ness of the North Carolina wilderness. The elk then roamed 
east of the mountains and the rattlesnakes could be found in 
colonies. One day in pursuing a wounded elk Cleveland sud- 
denly found himself in the midst of one of these hissing colonies 
from which he escaped by plunging into the river. 

According to Shelby's enumeration the troops now assembled 
were : 4 

Over-mountain men under Shelby 240 

Over-mountain men under Sevier 240 

Virginians under Campbell 400 

North Carolinians under McDowell 160 

North Carolinians under Cleveland 350 


The over-mountain men, it will be observed, were consid- 
erably less than half and this statement is necessary because 
there is a general impression that the expedition was princi- 
pally made up of the romantic hunters from the Tennessee. A 
week or so later they were joined by several hundred South 
Carolinians, so that the proportion of over-mountain men 
became still smaller. The little army would be properly de- 
scribed as composed of patriot riflemen of the farmer, hunter 
and Indian fighting class from the frontiers of the two Caroli- 
nas and Virginia. 

As they followed Ferguson towards Ninety-Six, they were 
completely deceived by his ruse, missed the turn he had made 
eastward, and kept on towards Ninety-Six, while he was moving 
eastward and waiting for them at King's Mountain. So rapidly 
did they pursue him towards Ninety-Six, that they exhausted 
many of their horses. Not a few of the men were obliged to 
tramp on foot and all were discouraged and disgusted. Fer- 
guson had been assisted in his ruse by some of the South Caro- 
lina patriots under Williams, who wanted Campbell's army to 
keep on southward, abandon their enterprise against Ferguson 
and attack Ninety-Six so as to help the patriots in that region 
protect their property from the loyalists. 

* Draper, "King's Mountain and Its Heroes," p. 563. 



But Ferguson's trick was finally discovered, and on the 
evening of the 5th of October, 700 of the best mounted men were 
selected and sent on the true course to the eastward. The next 
day they reached a place called the Cowpens where a prosperous 
loyalist, named Saunders, collected his cattle. Here they were 
found by some South Carolina patriot bands under Hill and 
Williams. Several large bodies of armed loyalists were nearby ; 
but they seem to have been slow and inactive. 

Another selection of men was now made and on the night 
of the 6th of October, 910 mounted riflemen started in the rain 
to attack Ferguson in the morning. But by noon the next day 
they had not found him and horses and men were so exhausted 
that some of the leaders wanted to halt. Soon they began to 
capture scouts and a messenger from Ferguson. From one of 
these a description of Ferguson's dress was obtained, a cheek 
shirt over his uniform, and the riflemen were told to remember 
it. The messenger was carrying a dispatch to Cornwallis 
expressing great anxiety and earnestly calling for assistance. 

At three in the afternoon of this 7th day of October they 
were at the base of the spur on the top of which Ferguson was 
encamped in English fashion, with no intrenchments or breast- 
works. As they rode along the leaders had agreed on the plan 
of attack and communicated it to the men, who were to sur- 
round the spur and charge up in Indian fashion from tree to 
tree. As soon as they arrived near the base of the spur the 
riflemen all dismounted and, leaving their coats and blankets 
strapped to the saddles, tied their horses in the woods and with 
scarcely a moment's delay started on foot up the three easy 
sides of the spur. 

Ferguson had about one hundred loyalists from New Jersey, 
New York and Connecticut, known as his rangers, picked from 
permanent loyalist regiments, such as the King's American 
Regiment and the Queen's Bangers. These picked troops were 
often spoken of at the time as regulars, although provincials 
was a more proper term for describing such loyalists in the 
British service. The rest of Ferguson's men were southern 
loyalist militia, or loyalist volunteers as they have sometimes 

Vol. 1123 353 


been called; and tJie whole force numbered about 900 on the 
spur and possibly 200 more foraging at some distance. 5 

Strange to say, although Ferguson professed to be a marks- 
man and had spent a large part of his life in trying to intro- 
duce the rifle into the British service, his men, many of whom 
on this occasion had rifles, were not encouraged to shoot. They 
were instructed to rely principally upon the bayonet. Those 
without regular bayonets had long knives to fit into the muzzles 
of their guns ; so that Ferguson might as well have surrendered 
at once, for his battle was lost before it was begun. 

He had not been keeping a very good lookout for such a 
heavily timbered country, where a large body of men might 
approach very close before being seen. The riflemen had rushed 
on so rapidly during the day capturing his scouts that it seems 
that they had formed and were within a quarter of a mile of 
him before he knew it. They came on shouting and yelling 
after their manner. Some of them were instructed by their 
officers to "shout like hell and fight like devils." Some of 
them used the Indian warwhoop and very likely a great deal 
of the shouting was similar to what was afterwards known as 
the " rebel yell " or the " Tennessee yell " in the Civil War of 

Ferguson had considered his position a good one, with one 
end of the spur precipitous and unassailable and the other end 
and sides sloping more gradually ; and General Bernard, one of 
Napoleon's engineers, who visited King's Mountain, seems to 
have considered the position a correct one from a European 
point of view. But if we take into account that the slopes 
were covered with trees and bowlders, the ideal ground for the 
advance of American riflemen, each man acting individually 
and moving from tree to tree like an Indian, we must conclude, 
and General Bernard in effect admitted, that Ferguson's posi- 
tion was not well chosen. 

He might have no doubt made it good or better by putting 
his men behind breastworks, safe from the riflemen and ready 

Draper, "King's Mountain and Its Heroes," pp. 237, 238. 



to pour a volley into them in Bunker Hill fashion, when they 
came up close. It would also, it seems, have been better if he 
had kept his men on the summit and not allowed them to charge 
down the sides. Both Shelby and Cleveland describe the sides 
as steep and they considered themselves at great disadvantage 
in charging upwards. It was "almost equal/' said Shelby, "to 
storming a battery.'* 

But instead of using all these advantages of his position 
Ferguson relied upon charging down hill upon his enemy, who 
would shrewdly retire to avoid the shock of the charge and 
then come on again, shooting down the tired loyalists, who had 
ventured down so far and had to run up hill to escape. The 
summit of the spur was bare of trees and as the riflemen neared 
it they could stand behind trees on the slopes and have easy 
marks on the bare summit. As Lee afterwards remarked, 
Ferguson's position was more "assailable by the rifle than 
defensible with the bayonet." 6 

It was poor generalship on Ferguson's part to disdain in- 
trenchments and breastworks. Patriots would have intrenched 
themselves so strongly that nothing but a siege and starvation 
would have dislodged them. The only point where Ferguson 
achieved the slightest success was where some of his men imi- 
tated the patriot tactics and got among a clump of rocks, de- 
fending themselves for a considerable time. 

" Ben Hollingsworth and I," said one of the riflemen, " took up the 
side of the mountain, and fought our way from tree to tree, up to the 
summit. I recollect I stood behind one tree and fired until the bark was 
nearly all knocked off, and my eyes pretty well filled with it. One fellow 
shaved me pretty close, for his bullet took a piece out of my gun stock." 
(Draper, "King's Mountain and Its Heroes," p. 270.) 

It is rather strange that we find so little in Revolutionary 
records of marksmanship among loyalists, who living in America 
would naturally, we might suppose, have the same practice with 
firearms as the patriots. But our knowledge of loyalists comes 

6 Draper, " King's Mountain and Its Heroes," pp. 272, 524, 526, 543. 



largely from the writings of patriots, who were unwilling, as 
a rule, to admit that their bitter enemies had any qualities, save 
contemptible ones. At King's Mountain, however, we are per- 
haps given a glimpse of the truth; for Draper has collected 
some instances of what loyalists could do with a rifle when 
given a chance. Those of them who got behind trees or rocks, 
instead of charging, picked off patriots with deadly skilL In 
several instances a patriot and a loyalist were both killed simul- 
taneously by each other's fire; and in one instance two brothers 
killed each other in this way. But all through the Revolution 
there seems to have been something in the British army system, 
or in the methods of its officers, which prevented the creation 
of marksmen or prevented their use when created. 7 

The stupidity of the repeated charges of the loyalists was 
redeemed only by its heroism. They kept it up for a long time, 
under the direct encouragement of Ferguson, who kept sound- 
ing his silver battle-whistle. But of what avail was such 
valor against the method of the riflemen to yield to every 
charge ; to rely entirely upon marksmanship ; and make every 
shot a careful study with a weapon used and spoken to as 
though it were a favorite horse ? 

It was not unlike Braddock's defeat in the French and 
Indian War, when the British regulars attempted to charge 
upon the Indians concealed behind logs and rocks. Every 
ridiculous charge of the loyalists was merely a bringing down 
of fresh targets for the patriots. The loyalists were ordered to 
reserve their fire until the end of their charge; but at that 
point their enemy was under cover and they themselves were 
unsteady for want of breath. Their shots merely cut the bark 
from trees or went over the heads of the riflemen. They would 
then fall back up hill, reloading by a method Ferguson had 
taught them, but exposed like so many sheep to the fire of 
the patriots. 

White flags were soon raised, but Ferguson cut them down 
with his sword, and then with some friends attempted to escape 

T Draper, "Bang's Mountain and Its Heroes/* p. 314. 



on horseback through the patriot lines. Every one knew him ; 
for the description had been passed round he wears a check 
shirt over his uniform, he uses the sword in his left hand, for 
his right was crippled at Brandywine. A rifleman, Eobert 
Young, with his pet weapon " Sweet Lips/' fired at Ferguson 
and confidently claimed the honor of his death. But others 
had fired at him ; for seven bullets were found in his body. 

White flags were now displayed on guns and ramrods and 
mounted men waved handkerchiefs. Several of them were 
shot down by loyalist officers. Two men with handkerchiefs 
were shot in succession from the same horse and the third suc- 
ceeded in being noticed and received by Shelby. The riflemen 
had been fighting in such a scattered and individual way that 
as they came crowding up to the summit they did not see or 
understand the flags, or angrily disregarded them, shouting: 
" Give them Tarleton's quarters/' Young Sevier, believing 
that his father had been killed, kept loading and firing with 
tears streaming down his cheeks until his father arrived and 
stopped him. Shelby was riding up and down screaming to 
the loyalists: " Damn you, if you want quarters throw down 
your arms/* 

Other leaders exerted themselves to restore order. Campbell 
shouted: " Officers rank by yourselves; prisoners take off your 
hats and sit down." The surrendering loyalists were now 
huddled in a mass along the summit of the spur and the patriots 
were gradually forming a guard round them, when some shots 
were fired, either by the prisoners, or by a loyalist foraging 
party just returning, and one of these shots mortally wounded 
Colonel Williams of the riflemen. 

Campbell immediately ordered the riflemen round him to 
fire upon the prisoners. " We killed near a hundred of them, " 
said Lieutenant Hughes, " and could hardly be restrained from 
killing the whole." This might seem at first to be a very exag- 
gerated account by young Hughes, who was not twenty years 
old and very bitter against the loyalists for killing his father. 
But there was unquestionably a great number killed, after the 
surrendering had begun. Colonel Arthur Campbell said that 



this largely accounted for the heavy loyalist loss afterwards 
reported. "They were driven into a huddle," he said, "and 
received a heavy fire before our troops could be notified of the 
surrender. " The riflemen had no regular military discipline 
and were more like an intelligent mob than an army. After 
the death of Ferguson the loyalists were in very much the same 
condition, and the next officer in command, De Peyster, could 
not control them sufficiently to make a regular, formal 
surrender. 8 

It was feared that the prisoners would seize their arms 
again and renew the fight, until at last the lucky suggestion was 
made of marching them away from their arms, which had been 
thrown on the ground. Loyalist officers were surrendering here 
and there by handing swords to the nearest patriot officer; and 
Campbell, in his shirt-sleeves and with his collar open, was 
tramping about with his hands full of swords and a bundle of 
them under his arm. It was a farmer's and a hunter's way of 
attending to such business ; and a patriot lieutenant, to whom 
a sword was offered, not sure that he had the right to accept 
it, invited the officer to sit down on the ground and talk with 

The battle is supposed to have lasted about an hour; and 
taken in all its details is a most striking evidence of the military 
incapacity of both Cornwallis and Ferguson. That Cornwallis, 
after having admitted in writing that Ferguson had troops 
which could not be relied upon, should have failed to send him 
any reinforcements and allowed him to remain with less than 
a thousand men seventy miles away for nearly a month, seems 
like very gross carelessness. The plans of Cornwallis depended 
entirely upon the rising of the loyalists of North Carolina. Fer- 
guson 's expedition was essentially a loyalist one for the en- 
couragement of loyalism; and if he were cut off the loyalists 
would be so discouraged that they would not rise at all. "Why 
should he risk the whole loyalist uprising by exposing a small 
isolated detachment so far away? 

Draper, "King's Mountain and Its Heroes," pp. 281-286, 529, 566. 



"My not sending relief to Ferguson, although he was positively 
ordered to retire, was entirely owing to Tarleton himself; he pleaded 
weakness from the remains of a fever, and refused to make the attempt, 
although I used the most earnest entreaties." (Boss, " Correspondence 
of CornwaUis," vol. i, p. 59.) 

If his army was really in such a state, that he had no one 
but Tarleton to send and could not compel obedience in Tarle- 
ton, his chances for a victorious progress through North Caro- 
lina and Virginia were very small. He says that Ferguson 
"was positively ordered to retire;" but does not say when that 
order was sent or whether Ferguson received it. If it reached 
Ferguson early in September he was a very disobedient officer; 
for he remained all that month at Gilbert Town. A letter to 
him from Cornwallis dated the 23rd of September was found in 
his baggage by the riflemen and published; and this letter 
gives no order about retreating and shows no alarm for his 
situation ; but on the contrary seems to assume that he is safe. 
He showed no signs of having received any order to retreat 
and began to retire only when he heard that the over-mountain 
men and the Virginians were almost upon him. 8 

'Tarleton, Narrative, pp. 160-165, 192; Ross, "Correspondence of 
Cornwallis/' vol. i, pp. 59 note, 304; Draper, "King's Mountain and 
Its Heroes,' 5 pp. 364, 376, 377, 548. 

The original evidence has been exhaustively collected by Mr. Draper 
in "King's Mountain and Its Heroes," in which the original letters, 
Shelby's pamphlet and Allaire's diary printed in full can be found. There 
is a chapter on the battle in Roosevelt's " Winning of the West." Kirk's 
account in his " Rear Guard of the Revolution," is largely a glorification 
of Sevier. Draper is by far the most reliable source of information. See 
Magazine of American History, vol. v, pp. 351, 401, and also the account 
in Gordon's "American Revolution." 



THE riflemen burnt Ferguson's baggage and wagons and 
buried the dead so hurriedly that the wolves dug them up and 
shared the feast with the vultures. The riflemen had been very- 
anxious to get away and left by ten o'clock the next morning 
to avoid Tarleton, who was every moment expected with rein- 
forcements from Cornwallis. It certainly was a good oppor- 
tunity for a British force to attack these tired troops, heavily 
laden with the captured arms, 600 prisoners and their own 
wounded borne on litters, nearly starved to death and travelling 
at the snail's pace of only 40 miles a week. 

The captured muskets and rifles were great spoil. The flints 
were drawn from them and the 600 prisoners were compelled 
to carry them. But this was by no means the only misery of 
the prisoners, for a captured loyalist in the hands of patriots 
was in a wretched plight. He was lucky if his life was spared ; 
his captors could not restrain their contempt and hatred; and 
did not consider themselves bound by the rules which regulated 
their conduct towards a captured regular. 

No doubt the prisoners were exasperating. They were con- 
stantly escaping or attempting to escape. One of them who 
hid in a hollow tree was dragged out and hacked to pieces with 
a sword. One stormy day a hundred of them escaped. Some 
escaped by dropping down into the water at night, as streams 
were crossed ; and to prevent this they were forbidden to drink 
in crossing rivers. Several who became exhausted were, it is 
said, "cut down and trodden to death in the mire." In the 
evening they were fed like swine with corn on the cob and raw 
pumpkins thrown to them. 

But their conquerors probably fared no better in the way 
of food. The more serious charges of killing and cruelty are 
apparently well founded; for there is extant an order issued 



by Campbell on the llth of October in which he says: "I must 
request the officers of all ranks in the army to endeavor to 
restrain the disorderly manner of slaughtering and disturbing 
the prisoners/' 1 

Starving and under little military discipline the riflemen 
soon broke through all restraints, deserted or started out from 
camp in bands, helping themselves to anything they wanted, 
plundering alike both patriot and loyalist families, and leaving 
the patriot families "in a worse situation than the enemy would 
have done." Terrible passions were loose in the South; and 
we now gain a glimpse of them; the same passions of murder 
and assassination which burst forth in Ireland under Britain's 
system of reducing patriotism to imperial subjection. Corn- 
wallis had hung, burned and robbed from one end of South 
Carolina to the other, and left patriot women and children 
sitting by fires at the road-side without homes or protectors, 
in order that rebellion and patriotism might become odious. 
Loyalists were his instruments for these deeds ; loyalists spied 
and told about their neighbors ; loyalists took part in raids and 
executions, and all loyalists approved. 

It is not then altogether surprising that patriot riflemen kept 
shooting into the surrendering mass of loyalism on the bare 
summit of King's Mountain; and hacked prisoners to pieces; 
and tortured and starved them on the retreat. Stories have 
come down to us that they treated Ferguson's dead body with 
indignity, stripped it naked and threw it out on the battle- 
field to the vultures. 

When the riflemen arrived at Gilbert Town and paused in 
their retreat with some feeling of safety, the South Carolina 
officers demanded vengeance on the loyalist prisoners to atone 
for the devastation and hanging Cornwallis had inflicted on the 
patriots of their state. The British had hung patriots cap- 
tured at the Battle of Camden, patriots had been hung and 
massacred at Augusta, patriots had been recently hung at 
Ninety-Six, and an officer was present who a few days before 

1 Draper, " King's Mountain and Its Heroes/' pp. 325, 326, 328, 346, 
518, 531, 532, 



had seen eleven of them hung there for the sake of extirpating 
patriotism in the South. Why then should not some loyalists 
now be hung for the sake of extirpating loyalism ? "Would not 
the patriots and their cause become contemptible if they tamely 
submitted to the methods of Cornwallis ? Was not retaliation 
a duty and absolutely necessary to offset the methods of Eng- 
land and make loyalism seem a dangerous occupation? 

A tribunal with judges and a jury was hastily formed, and 
between 30 and 40 of the loyalist prisoners were found guilty 
of assisting the British by raiding, sacking and burning patriot 
homes, and tying patriots to trees to be whipped and abandoned. 
Twelve of the most prominent were selected for hanging and 
nine were executed by torch-light under an oak tree near the 

Six of the nine were officers ; and one of them, Colonel Mills, 
was an elderly man of character and reputation whose fate 
aroused much sympathy. They all, Allaire says, died like mar- 
tyrs and heroes, attesting "with their latest breath their unut- 
terable detestation of the rebels and of their base and infamous 
proceedings ; and as they were being turned off extolled their 
King and the British Government." 2 

But a patriot, pointing to their dangling bodies, exclaimed 
to the crowd, "Would to God that every tree in the wilderness 
bore such fruit as that." 

After nine had been executed a younger brother fell on 
the neck of one of the three remaining, and in the midst of loud 
weeping and lamentations of farewell managed to cut the cords, 
and the man darted away through the crowd and escaped into 
the darkness. The two others were discharged and no punish- 
ment was attempted on the remaining twenty odtt who had 
been convicted. 

One of the three who had been waiting to be hung, said to 
Shelby, " You have saved my life and I will tell you a secret. 
Tarleton will be here in the morning, a woman has brought 
the news." 

8 Draper, "King's Mountain and Its Heroes," pp. 340, 516, 518, 



Tarleton, it is true, had started; but had not gone far when 
he was recalled by Cornwallis. The riflemen, however, thought 
that the warning was likely to be well founded, and by daylight 
the next morning they were on the march, leaving their nine 
victims swinging on the oak, from which they were cut down 
and buried by the loyalists of the region. 

Cornwallis sent to Gates some vigorous protests against this 
hanging. Such murders, he said, were " shocking to humanity" 
and "an act of the most savage barbarity." Unless such bloody 
scenes were stopped he would be compelled "to retaliate on 
the unfortunate persons in his power." He had, on his side, 
he said, had no one executed except those who having promised 
to remain quietly at home, or having joined the loyalist militia, 
had afterwards gone over to the patriots ; and a good instance 
of this sort of punishment is given in Allaire's diary. 8 

" Colonel Turnbull took two prisoners, who had previously been in 
his camp, drew ammunition, and then joined the rebels, and were heard 
to say when firing, * take back your ammunition again/ They were both 
hanged as a reward for their treachery." (Draper, "King's Mountain," 
&c., p. 502; see also p. 505.) 

Nearly 40 captured patriots are known to have been hung 
by the British up to that time ; and probably there were not a 
few others whose names have not been added to any of the 
lists. By the rules of war an enemy who secures a foothold in 
a country considers himself entitled to punish with death such 
treachery among the inhabitants as Cornwallis and Allaire 
describe. But on the other hand there is no rule of either 
humanity or war which prohibits retaliation by the troops of 
the people who are still defending their country. There is no 
equity in the hands of one side being free and the hands of the 
other side tied. 

In the minds of the patriots the loyalists were Americans 
who had gone over to the British and assisted them by devas- 
tating patriot homes and killing patriot people not in arms. 
Many loyalists had also served with the patriots ; for changing 

Draper, "King's Mountain and Its Heroes," pp. 330-344, 536, 544, 
7, 200, 373, 505. 


of sides as safety or advantage indicated, was very common; 
and Washington had recently said that "severe examples should 
be made of those who were forgiven for former offences and are 
again in arms against us." 4 

Under these circumstances, when Cornwallis had run up his 
list of hangings to about 40, the patriot officers at Gilbert Town, 
with plenty of prisoners in their hands to choose from, very 
naturally concluded that a conspicuous act of retaliation was 
in order, and would have a restraining influence on Cornwallis 
and a terrorizing effect on loyalists who thought of joining his 

In some modern histories the episode has been softened by 
confusing it with the irregular shooting after the surrender, and 
by representing it as a mere act of excitement among the rank 
and file which was soon stopped by their officers. This view of 
it has the advantage of saddling the British with all deliberate 
prisoner killing, while the Americans stand guilty of nothing 
more than some mistaken action in the heat -of passion. But 
the original evidence collected by Draper, especially Shelby's 
account, shows that the hanging at Gilbert Town was the delib- 
erate act of officers, and of a court which conducted its pro- 
ceedings in as official and formal a manner as possible. 

The conviction of nearly forty of the prisoners perhaps 
indicates an intention of equalling the list of Cornwallis 's hang- 
ings ; and the selection for actual death of only about a dozen 
of the most prominent and respectable may have been after- 
wards thought a more moderate but equally effective method of 
retaliation and terror. It was no doubt well calculated to deter 
the prominent and capable people of the country from becom- 
ing leaders of loyalism in the British interest. It struck at 
Cornwallis 's plans of organizing a great loyalist uprising among 
Americans; and Shelby said that it checked the hanging of 
patriots by the British. 

There was no check, however, in the bloody private and 
neighborhood feuds between patriots and loyalists; and the 

4 Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. vii, p. 370. 



British, although they may have hesitated to indulge in as many 
hangings as formerly, soon made another shipment of prominent 
South Carolina patriots to St. Augustine, because "they dis- 
covered no disposition to return to their allegiance and would, 
if in their power, overthrow the British Government." 5 

The riflemen need not have been in such haste to leave Gil- 
bert Town ; for Tarleton instead of being hot upon their heels 
was with Cornwallis, flying for safety to South Carolina. So 
far from pursuing the riflemen, he and Cornwallis believed 
themselves to be pursued by the over-mountain barbarians, "the 
dirty mongrels," the "back-water men" whom rumor had 
represented as 3000 strong and as monsters in stature and 

The 600 prisoners, dwindling in numbers from escapes, kill- 
ing and executions, had ever since the battle been a source of 
serious difficulty. The southern patriots were like the Boers 
of South Africa in their war for independence; they hardly 
knew what to do with their prisoners and had no place to keep 
them. After leaving Gilbert Town the riflemen had gone 
directly north to put the Catawba between themselves and 
Tarleton; and that done they felt safe. The over-mountain 
men, most of the Virginians and the South Carolina troops, 
now went to their respective homes; and the North Carolina 
men under Cleveland took charge of the prisoners, marched 
them still farther northward, and then turned eastward through 
those curious old Moravian settlements of North Carolina, 
which were strongly loyalist. The object was to take the 
prisoners towards Hillsboro to Gates and receive his instruc- 
tions in regard to them. 6 

The subsequent history of the prisoners shows the total 
lack of organization and the hand-to-mouth way in which the 
patriot cause in the South survived. Gates could not decide 

5 Gordon, " American devolution/* edition 1788, vol. iii, pp. 462, 469 ; 
vol. iv, p. 28; B. 3T. Stevens, " Clinton-Cornwallis Controversy," vol. i, 
pp. 185, 261, 303; Draper, "King's Mountain/' &c., pp. 372, 373, 544, 
545, 557. 

Draper, id., pp. 349-352. 



what to do. He thought of sending the prisoners to the Chis- 
well lead mines in Virginia ; but was told that that region was 
strongly loyalist; and most other places seemed to have the 
same objection. He finally referred the subject to Thomas 
Jefferson, then Governor of Virginia, and Jefferson referred it 
to the Congress, which directed that the prisoners be turned 
over to the patriot governors of the states of which they had 
been citizens. But this request could not be carried out because 
the patriot government of North Carolina could barely exist, 
and the patriot government of South Carolina had no existence 

Meantime the prisoners were steadily escaping by dozens, 
twos and threes, until in December only 130 were left and soon 
after only 60. Some few had become patriots ; but most of them 
disappeared to their homes or rejoined the British. Lieutenant 
Allaire has left us an interesting account of his escape with 
three companions, when the prisoners had reached the Moravian 
towns. Sleeping in fodder-houses and woods by day and tramp- 
ing at night they travelled across North Carolina down to 
Ninety-Six and thence to Charleston. They were passed along 
from one loyalist family to another, furnished with guides, 
food and concealment and at times with horses. It was a 
half wilderness region and they often heard the wolves howling 
at night. They occasionally heard of or passed the small patriot 
bands which like similar loyalist bands prowled through the 
country. But so numerous were the loyalists and neutrals that 
once the prison bounds were passed escape was comparatively 
easy. 7 

T Draper, "King's Mountain and Its Heroes," pp. 355, 358-369, 513; 
Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. ix, p. 99. 



WHEN Cornwallis finally learned of the total defeat of 
Ferguson it was such a surprise and shock to him, that his 
imagination pictured the most terrible consequences. Believ- 
ing from rumor that the riflemen were 3000 strong, he feared 
they would sweep down behind him into South Carolina and 
capture Camden and Ninety-Six. He saw that the loyalist 
uprising in North Carolina was hopelessly discouraged. In 
what seems very much like a panic he sent messages to recall 
Tarleton, who had at last gone to the rescue of Ferguson ; and 
without waiting for his return he hastily abandoned Charlotte 
and started southward. 

His guide was a patriot in disguise, who cleverly lost him 
just at nightfall, and the troops wandered and scattered them- 
selves in the darkness. They were in great alarm lest the ter- 
rible mountain men should pounce upon them ; and they could 
not be collected until noon the next day. 

It required two weeks of marching, privation and hardships 
to bring them to Winnsborough, South Carolina. Many were 
sick and died on the march of what they called the yellow fever. 
It may have been only malaria or the southern bilious fever 
of those days; but its ravages and the condition of extreme 
emaciation to which the sufferers were reduced may indicate 
that it was something worse. 

On several days it rained heavily, and the slippery red mud 
became almost impassable for horses. The loyalists put them- 
selves in the harness and showed how to drag the wagons up 
slippery hills and across Sugar Creek. They also showed the 
troops how to live upon the country and grate the raw corn 
in the fields by rubbing it on a tin canteen punched full of 



holes. For five days the troops lived on this corn alone. They 
were incapable of foraging for themselves and obtaining the 
half wild cattle that roamed in the woods. The loyalist militia- 
men, accustomed to the country, obtained supplies for them 
and saved them from starvation. But all the thanks the loyal- 
ists received was to be cursed and beaten by the officers with 
the regulation affectation of contempt for colonists and 

Patriot bands cut off their foraging parties and were con- 
stantly picking off men from behind trees. An excursion of 
only a few hundred yards from the camp was unsafe, and they 
were not safe in the camp itself; for patriot sharp-shooters 
would creep up close, select their victim and escape. 

Cornwallis was taken ill of the fever, and, before he recov- 
ered, directed his second in command, Lord Rawdon, to write 
to Clinton that no reliance could be placed upon the loyalists, 
and that it would not be worth while to attempt to join them 
in North Carolina and run the risk of losing South Carolina. 
He foresaw, he said, many difficulties and objections to carry- 
ing on the defensive policy of his superior ; but for the present, 
he must continue it ; for, as he frankly admits, its dangers were 
not so great as those which he now saw would for the present 
attend his own more aggressive plan. 1 

He had certainly made a bad muddle. If the loyalists of 
North Carolina had ever intended to rise and sweep upward 
into Virginia, they were now utterly discouraged. They had 
seen their own army under Ferguson defeated, shot down and 
captured to a man ; and their supposed protectors, Cornwallis 
and the British regulars, they had seen flying in panic to South 
Carolina. And all this because Cornwallis had violated a well- 
known military rule, weakened himself by making an isolated 

1 B. F. Stevens, * e Clinton-Cornwallis Controversy," vol. i, pp. 44 note, 
103, 263, 278, 279; Tarleton's Campaign, p. 166; Draper, "King's 
Mountain and Its Heroes," pp. 367-371; Stedman, "American War," 
edition 1794, vol. ii, p. 225; "Life of Colonel Hanger," p. 179; Lee, 
Memoirs, vol. i, p. 211; Stedman, "American War/' vol. ii, pp. 224, 225. 


detachment and given the Americans the same opportunity 
Howe had given them, at Trenton and Burgoyne at Bennington. 

The Battle of King's- Mountain marked a turning point in 
the Revolution more definitely than Burgoyne 's surrender at 
Saratoga. Saratoga secured for us the open assistance of 
France; but in spite of that assistance our efforts for inde- 
pendence had almost failed when King's Mountain began a new 
series of events. "It was the first perceivable event/' said 
Shelby, " that gave a favorable turn to the American 
Revolution." 2 

The battle, however, did not in itself cause the favorable 
turn as the language of Shelby might imply. Cornwallis might 
have recovered from the effects of the battle, if he had continued 
to obey Clinton's orders and carry out Clinton's plans. The 
battle is more properly described as marking the first result of 
the new British theory of action, the theory of Cornwallis which, 
for the rest of the war overrides the methods of Clinton, breaks 
up the system which had been in force for two years and brings 
about the final result 

But for a month or two Cornwallis could not go on with 
his plans. It was all he could do to save South Carolina from 
relapsing to patriotism. Elated and aroused by the success 
of the riflemen the South Carolina patriot bands again seized 
their arms, attacked the loyalists and raided up to the gates 
of Charleston. "There was scarce an inhabitant," said Corn- 
wallis, ''between the Santee and the Pedee that was not in arms 
against us." 

He had in a measure to begin over again the conquest of 
South Carolina. He ordered Major Wemys and Tarleton to 
break up this new rebellion and attack Sumter who, after his 
band had been broken and scattered immediately after the 
American defeat at Camden, had quickly collected another. 
He had now about three hundred banditti, as Cornwallis called 
them, and with other partisan leaders, Banner and Clark, 
was making life terrible for the loyalists. Major Wemys 

* Draper, "King's Mountain and Its Heroes/' p. 560. 
Vol. 1124 369 


attempted to surprise him on the 12th of November, and accord- 
ing to the British account was partly successful; but Wemys 
was wounded and taken prisoner and his force retreated. 

The South Carolina patriots now cried victory, and accord- 
ing to Cornwallis 's account, " the whole country came in 
fast to join Sunater," whose men increased to a thousand. 
Tarleton was put in pursuit, and in attempting a surprise 
failed, but cut to pieces, it is said, Sumter 7 s rear guard in 
crossing the Enoree Biver and forced him to take a strong 
position on Black Stocks Hill, close to the Tyger River. The 
American and British accounts of the battle which followed are 
totally different. According to the Americans, Sumter was 
protected by a small stream, brtushwood and a rail fence in front 
and a log barn from which riflemen could shoot in safety. Tar- 
leton made one of his whirlwind dashes of loyalist cavalry, lost 
one-third of his force and retired ingloriously with no satis- 
faction except that Sumter was seriously wounded. But Corn- 
wallis describes Tarleton attacking with only two hundred and 
seventy men, driving the one thousand Americans across the 
river, and dispersing them after killing and wounding one 
hundred and twenty with a loss to himself of only fifty. 3 

In any event, Cornwallis seems to have in a great measure 
recovered his former control of South Carolina. But in North 
Carolina the patriots were rapidly gaining the upper hand. 
From his headquarters at Hillsboro, Gates was reorganizing 
the militia, and on the 8th of November some of his troops took 
possession of Salisbury, which Cornwallis had hoped to hold. 
Counting Ferguson's loss and the results of skirmishing with 
riflemen and guerillas, Gates could now announce to the Con- 
gress that the British had had the worst of the campaign, hav- 
ing lost more men than the Americans, and having abandoned 

8 Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, p. 471; 
Draper, "King's Mountain and Its Heroes," pp. 376, 377; B. F. Stevens, 
" Clinton-Cornwallis Controversy," vol. i, pp. 303, 307, 315 ; Lee, 
Memoirs, vol. i, pp. 213-220; Tarleton, "Narrative," pp. 178, 204; 
Stedman, "American War," vol. ii, pp. 228-236. 



large districts of territory which they had supposed that they 
had conquered.* 

North Carolina was free from the British. Gates had 
learned, from his recent misfortune, the danger of precipi- 
tancy, and was proceeding with caution and disposing his 
forces with more intelligence. But nothing he could do would 
atone for his disastrous defeat at Camden, and the abandon- 
ment of Charlotte. The northern patriots and the Congress 
had lost all confidence in him. A court of inquiry was ordered, 
and he was superseded in the command by the appointment of 
General Greene. 5 

Greene always defended Gates and disapproved of any 
censure on his misfortune. 

"General Gates left this country under a heavy load; and I can 
assure you he did not deserve it. If he was to be blamed for anything at 
all, it was for fighting, not for what he did or did not do in or after the 
action. I have been upon the ground where he was defeated, and I think 
it was. well chosen, and the troops properly drawn up ; and had he halted 
after the defeat at Charlotte, without doing the least thing, I am per- 
suaded there would have been as little murmuring upon that occasion, as 
in any instance whatever, where the public met with a misfortune of 
equal magnitude." (Gordon, " American Revolution,*' edition 1788, vol. 
iv, p. 98. See also vol. iii, p. 475.) 

Meantime, before his successor arrived, Gates had returned 
with his newly collected army to Charlotte and had outposts 
still farther south on the road to Camden in South Carolina. 
Morgan, of the famous rifle corps, now at last promoted to the 
rank of general, had joined him ; and Gates was soon able to 
report two brilliant successes by Sumter. 

On the 2d of December, General Greene arrived at Char- 
lotte and took command, closing the service of Gates in the 
Kevolution. To his misfortunes of loss of command and of the 
confidence of the Congress and of his party, the retiring gen- 
eral had also to endure the recent announcement of the death of 

4 Gordon, "American Revolution/' edition 1788, vol. iii, p. 469. 
5 Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, p. 469; Lee, 
" Memoirs," vol. i, pp. 224, 225. 



his son. He returned northward, with dignity and composure, 
and retired to his farm in Berkeley County, Virginia. In 
passing through Richmond the Virginia legislature received him 
with distinguished consideration and the magnanimity of the 
Roman Senate. "The remembrance of his former glorious 
services could not," they assured him, "be obliterated by any 
reverse of fortune." America owed him a debt of gratitude 
for Saratoga, that could never be forgotten. 6 

General Gates is not one of the popular officers of the 
Revolution; but in considering his whole career, it must be 
confessed that his services had been valuable at times, espe- 
cially in organizing. His worst trait was a cunning, petty 
intriguing to undermine other officers by suggestion and in- 
nuendo. In actual warfare he certainly had sufficient skill 
to use his superior numbers so as to keep Burgoyne wearing 
himself out until surrender was inevitable. But in the field, 
Gates was not at his best ; and he was, no doubt, aware of his 
weakness. "With no faculty for seeing or seizing any of the 
sudden advantages that occur on a battle-field, he naturally 
would prefer to leave the conduct of his army on such occa- 
sions to trustworthy subordinates. This accounts for his keep- 
ing so much in the background in his battles with Burgoyne ; 
and it was a wise decision ; for in Arnold and Morgan he had 
officers whose minds were notorious for their quickness and 
intelligence in the midst of smoke and slaughter. 

At Camden, his plan of surprising Cornwallis at night was a 
simple and good one, except that it was contrary to military 
rule to attempt to move raw, undisciplined militia at night in 
the neighborhood of an enterprising enemy. But whatever 
merit was in his plan was frustrated by the curious coincidence 
of Cornwallis starting at the same time to surprise him. When 
the two forces met halfway, it was the very predicament for 
which Gates was unfitted. We can readily imagine Arnold, 
Wayne or Morgan rescuing their army from serious defeat on 
such an occasion, or possibly achieving a victory. But Gates, 

6 Lee, "Memoirs," vol. i, p. 235 note. 



an Englishman, was never able to acquire the traits of quickness 
and versatility which were so strikingly exhibited in some of our 
officers of native stock. "When his troops gave way he could 
do no more than go along with them in the retreat. 

On the 2d of December, the day that Greene took com- 
mand, Colonel William Washington, a distant relative of the 
commander-in-chief, with some light cavalry, reconnoitred 
Clermont, or Eugeley y s Mills, which he found occupied by loyal- 
ists, protected by a log barn and abatis. Washington was a 
young officer who had been wounded in the wrist at Trenton, 
escaped in the massacre of Baylor's Virginia Cavalry at Tap- 
pan, and was now just coming into prominence. 

Seeing that the log barn and its defences could be pene- 
trated only by artillery, and judging that the loyalists were 
relying on this security, he had his men shape the trunk of a 
pine tree in imitation of a field piece, and with much parade 
plant it in sight of the loyalists, whose surrender was then de- 
manded with the utmost formality. Colonel Rugeley, believing 
that his defences would soon be shot through by heavy balls, 
yielded at once, and his men, a hundred or more in number, 
were, to the great disgrace of loyalism, taken prisoners without 
firing a shot. 7 

This was a cheering success, which raised the reputation of 
young Washington, and combined with the arrival of their new 
commander, put all the southern army in a confident and jovial 
mood. The game of war, now that the Congress had aroused 
itself to active operations in the South, was becoming compli- 
cated and momentous. North Carolina was the great prize 
dangling before the eyes of Cornwallis and the Ministry, to be 
followed, they hoped, by Virginia. 

When Cornwallis was contemplating his invasion of North 
Carolina, which ended in the disaster to Ferguson, he had, as 
we have seen, written to Clinton to send a force into Virginia 
to cooperate with him when he should reach that state after 

T Gordon, " American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, p. 473 ; Lee, 
Memoirs, vol. i, p. 245; Tarleton, Narrative, p. 182. 



having crossed North. Carolina. Clinton complied, and sent 
3000 men under command of General Leslie, who was directed 
to obey the orders of Cornwallis. 

Leslie arrived in Virginia in the end of October, and estab- 
lished himself at Portsmouth opposite Norfolk. The state 
seems to have been almost defenceless, for Leslie destroyed 
shipping, tobacco, and supplies, and moved about the country 
pretty much as he pleased. While engaged in this work, 
he received a message from Cornwallis suggesting that he go 
to Cape Fear Eiver in North Carolina, and also if possible to 
South Carolina. Leslie accordingly took his force by sea to 
Cape Pear, but receiving a more urgent message he went to 
Charleston, on the 14th of December, and afterwards joined 
Cornwallis in the interior. 8 

From this it would seem as if Cornwallis had abandoned, at 
least for the present, his original plan of invading North Caro- 
lina and Virginia ; and the letter Lord Rawdon wrote to Leslie 
intimates as much when it says, "Lord Cornwallis cannot hope 
that he shall be able to undertake anything upon such a scale 
as either to aid you or to benefit from you in our present situa- 
tion." Clinton had been willing that an experiment should 
be made in North Carolina to see what could be done. 9 But 
that experiment having been tried with lamentable failure, 
the safer and sounder policy for Cornwallis was to remain in 
South Carolina and Georgia, make sure of their safety and see 
what the new patriot commander, Greene, would do. 

Cornwallis seemed now to be following this conservative 
course. He arranged his force so that his centre was at Winns- 
borough, his right at Camden, and his left at Ninety-Six. 
These three posts, Camden, "Winnsborough and Ninety-Six, held 
by 3224 men, covered, it will be observed from the map, a 
stretch of country crossing the Wateree, the Broad and the 

8 Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. ix, pp. 86 note, 87 note ; 
B. F. Sterens, " Clinton-Conrwallis Controversy," vol. I pp. 269, 270, 274, 
276, 284, 286, 287, 289, 294-296, 298, 301-303, 308, 310, 313, 317, 318; 
Gordon, " American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iii, p. 491. 

* B, F. Stevens, " Clinton-Cornwallis Controversy," vol. i, p. 102. 


^ J.Charlott 




Saluda rivers. It was a strong position, backed by a rich fer- 
tile district, and with reinforcements in Charleston and the 
posts at Georgetown and other points, made a very complete 
occupation of South Carolina. When we consider that Georgia 
was occupied in a similar way, and East Florida held at St. 
Augustine, we have the high-water mark of British success in 
the South. 10 

The situation was a delicate one, which called for the exer- 
cise of the utmost judgment and discretion on the part of Corn- 
wallis; for the patriot Congress, now thoroughly aroused to 
the necessity of no longer relying on France and Spain, had 
sent an able general not only to protect North Carolina, but 
to break, if he could, the British hold to the southward. 

General Greene, a stout, portly man, thirty-eight years old, 
of mild, genial manners, and not altogether robust health, was 
an interesting instance of a Rhode Island Quaker with a natural 
genius for war. In battle, in the quartermaster's department, 
in the discipline of camp, and in all details of organization he 
had shown a superior understanding of every phase of military 
life. As a field officer he was the equal of Morgan, Wayne, and 
Arnold, and in grasp of important questions and general strat- 
egy he was far their superior. In all these large matters his 
ideas were original and his judgment quick and unerring. 

To meet the 3000 men under Cornwallis, Greene had nomi- 
nally 2307; but only 1482 of these were present and fit for 
duty. In January 700 reinforcements were added, bringing 
his effective force to a little over 2000. But these 2000 men 
were destitute of every comfort and convenience ; ragged, naked 
and barefooted; without magazines, and dependent for their 
food on daily seizures and collections in the neighborhood. 
They were mere volunteers held together by public opinion, 
and many of them would often leave without permission and go 
home for several weeks. 

To stop this practice, Greene, soon after his arrival, ordered 
that the next man guilty of this sort of desertion should be 

M G. W. Greene, " Life of General Greene," vol. iii, pp. 128, 129. 



shot. But so insecure was his authority that he had to send 
his officers about among the men to listen to their conversation 
and see if public opinion approved this new act of discipline. 
Finding that it was approved, he gradually increased his sever- 
ity, and during the next six months this increasing discipline 
saved him from the fate of Gates. 11 

On his way down from the North Greene had made the best 
arrangements he could with the patriot governors of Delaware, 
Maryland and Virginia to furnish his army with men, provis- 
ions and clothes. North Carolina was almost denuded. The 
patriot militia as well as the loyalists and British had ravaged 
it until it would no longer support an army. Greene's support 
and supplies must all come from the North; from Virginia, 
Maryland, Delaware, and even from Philadelphia, which, under 
the directions of the Congress, would, he hoped, supply him 
with arms, tools, clothes and accoutrements. It was impossible 
to obtain even felling-axes in North Carolina. The army was 
destitute of even lint and bandages, and everything of this sort, 
together with a large part of his provisions, must be transported 
from the North by the slow method of wagons driven along 
wilderness roads for hundreds of miles. 12 

So many wagons had been captured by the British, when 
Gates was defeated at Camden, that the greatest efforts of the 
governors of Virginia, Maryland and Delaware, and of the 
Congress at Philadelphia, could scarcely procure any more. 
The public credit of the governments of those states was 
exhausted, and impressment was of little avail. Greene's sup- 
plies, therefore, arrived as slowly as his reinforcements and he 
could never hope to have much of an army. 

His long line of communications back to the north would 
have afforded a grand opportunity to the British if they could 
have penetrated far enough inland to reach the roads by which 
the wagons travelled. An active enterprising enemy would 

11 G. W. Greene, " Life of General Greene/ 5 vol. iii, pp. 70, 93; Gordon, 
" American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iv, pp. 27, 28. 

12 G. W. Greene, "Life of General Greene," vol. iii, pp. 55, 57, 58, 61, 
65, 06, 74, 85. 



have done this and wrecked all of Greene's hopes. ^fiif *;as 

Cornwallis had called Leslie's force from Virginia to 

his base at Charleston, Greene had little or nothing 

his communications, especially as he had left 

in Virginia in command of the militia of that state. *' fJX>T tvsi: " 

The plan adopted by Greene for dealing with the^suSirlor 
force of Cornwallis was very original and would 
quite beyond the capacity of Gates. The great 
Gates had been that he was in too much of a hurry fo <J fittack. 
Greene was determined never to be forced into 
measure of any kind, to take his own time for 
attacked rather than to attack, and then to be in a 
his own choosing. 

Except for this conservative principle, his plan 9 !ras the 
most audacious and ingenious piece of military 
the war. Dividing his force into two divisions, he j i 
larger one of about 1100 men under his own command 
on the east side of the Pedee River, below Hicks Cree;-%i 
site of the modern town of Chatham and near Ghei 
This position was east of Camden and, therefore, on 
flank of Cornwallis. The other division under Morga$*fti 
round to take a position that would threaten 
flank and make him uneasy for the safety of 
Greene was seventy miles to the right of Cornwallis, 
gan fifty miles from Cornwallis 's left. 18 *> 

The reason for this rather startling plan of 
inferior force to meet a superior force was, that 
could not start to invade North Carolina without havibgi totl 
his flanks assailed and losing, perhaps, two i 
Camden and Ninety-Six, if he went north 
garrisoned. If he decided not to invade North 
two patriot divisions would be in the best position to amrf 3nm, 
cut off his foraging parties and carry on partisan -warfare. 
The two patriot divisions would also be able to foragetto the 

M G. W. Greene, " Life of General Greene," vol. iii, p. ,jp 



fertile region from which Cornwallis drew his supplies, and be 
relieved from attempting to live at Charlotte or Salisbury where 
there was not subsistence for half their number. As an inva- 
sion of South Carolina, this plan of flanking Cornwallis would 
also tend to rally and encourage the depressed patriots of that 
state ; and it was very important to encourage them before their 
spirit was utterly broken and they became reconciled tc their 
misfortunes. 14 

The apparent recklessness of Greene's plan of dividing his 
force astonished the British, and Tarleton believed that he 
would never have adopted such a hazardous plan if he had 
known that Leslie's command from Virginia was about to rein- 
force Cornwallis. 16 

There was, of course, great danger in having violated the 
well-known rule of warfare and split the patriot force into 
two isolated detachments which might be beaten in detail. 
Washington, as we have already seen, had several times warned 
his officers of the great risk they ran whenever they violated 
this rule. He had himself nearly lost 2000 of his best troops 
by putting them in an isolated position under Lafayette at Bar- 
ren Hill. Burgoyne had afforded another instance at Ben- 
nington, and Ferguson at King's Mountain. Howe had lost his 
isolated detachment at Trenton in the beginning of the war; 
and military history was strewn thick with other instances. 

We can readily imagine a Washington, a Grant, a Lee, a 
Napoleon, or even General Howe when in earnest, taking a 
sudden and sure advantage of Greene's division of his army into 
two isolated bodies. But Cornwallis was not to be compared 
to any of those generals; and Greene, no doubt, had taken 
the measure of his opponent and understood his limitations 
along with the other circumstances of the situation. 

The American troops were notoriously quicker in all their 

M Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iv, p. 30; G. W. 
Greene, "Life of General Greene/* vol. iii, p. 51; Lee, Memoirs, vol. i, 
p. 247. 

15 Tarleton, Narrative, p. 208. 



movements than the English ; and if the isolated divisions exer- 
cised extreme watchfulness they might escape from a general 
like Cornwallis. The larger division at Chatham had the 
Pedee Eiver in front, as a protection, and had a good chance 
to retire if too strong a move were made against it, or to fight 
if a weaker move were made. The smaller division was light, 
mobile and under command of one of the most watchful, 
cautious and intelligent wilderness fighters in the army. He 
was instructed by Greene to take no risks, and to retreat if 
attacked. In fact, both divisions were to act according to the 
rules of partisan warfare. They were to raid, annoy, make 
sudden surprises and escape; and this dividing of the patriot 
army into two isolated bodies should, perhaps, be judged by 
the rules of the partisan, rather than by the science of the 
regular strategist. 

General Greene, who now took upon himself the responsi- 
bility of this delicate and momentous plan, reached his post at 
Chatham on the 26th of December, 1780, and the more he 
reflected on the disposition he had made of his army, the better 
he was pleased. 

" I am well satisfied with the movement, for it has answered thus far 
all the purposes for which I intended it. It makes the most of my 
inferior force, for it compels my adversary to divide his, and holds him 
in doubt as to his own line of conduct. He cannot leave Morgan behind 
him to come at me, or his posts of Ninety-Six and Augusta would be 
exposed. And he cannot chase Morgan far or prosecute his views upon 
Virginia, while I am here with the whole country open before me. I am 
as near Charleston as he is, and as near to Hillsborough as I was at 
Charlotte; so that I am in no danger of being cut off from my reinforce- 
ments;- while an uncertainty as to my future designs has made it neces- 
sary to leave a large detachment of the enemy's late reinforcements in 
Charleston, and move the rest up on this side the Wateree. But although 
there is nothing to obstruct my march to Charleston, I am far from 
having such a design in contemplation, in the present relative positions 
and strength of the two armies. It would be putting it in the power of 
my enemy to compel me to fight him." (G. W. Greene, "Life of General 
Greene," vol. iii, p. 131.) 

He goes on to explain that his movements must be confined 
to the upper waters of those numerous muddy rivers which 



Carolinas in a southeasterly direction. The lower 
| these streams flowed through a level country with 
or hills that, would give an inferior force the advan- 
the rivers in this lower part of their course were not 
often flowed through great swamps, which some- 
lakes, and across which, at .long intervals, roads 
had been constructed which could easily be de- 
render an army helpless. To enable himself to 
in the upper hilly country, and cross the streams 
by floods, Greene was constructing flat-bottomed 
terete transported on wheels with his army ; and this 

a very important part of his plan for escape. 
12th of January he was joined by Colonel Harry 
fig, M irginia, the famous Light Horse Harry, with his legion 
of picked men, 100 cavalry and 180 infantry, the most thor- 
and best equipped scouts and raiders of 
Their horses were powerful, well bred and 
condition. They were one of the very few bodies 
J troops that wore a uniform in the field. Their short 
green coats almost exactly resembled the dress of some of the 
t troops, and the resemblance may have been inten- 
was of great service to them on at least one 
In their marches the infantry were sometimes 
the cavalry and sometimes took turns at riding 
We have already seen something of Light Horse 
iiTiE3ie North. He was one of the well-educated, talented 

I .*ifn * 

? r jfrginians of that time. His memoirs of the war, with 
touches of his classical training, are the keenest 
of the Eevolution that have come down to 
now beginning a congenial and brilliant career 

rr ?,..,. . -,, A ^ 

He soon joined Marion in a dash at George- 
the coast, capturing the commander, driving the 
the garrison into the post and retreating as swiftly 
as he had arrived. 16 

" American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iv, p. 32; Lee, 
i, pp. 248-251, 283, 308; vol. ii, p. 89. 


This was, no doubt, the sort of warfare Greene intended to 
carry on so long as Cornwallis made no effort to attack form or 
invade North Carolina. All things considered, Greene had 
made a most daring and clever move on the chess board ; and 
as it turned out, the result of the whole Revolution depended 
on the decision which Cornwallis made in reply to it. 

Morgan had passed round the left flank of 
he was at GrindalTs Ford on the Pacolett River, not 
than forty-five miles from Ninety-Six. His 
from 580 to about 800 men. Colonel Washington 
body of 250 loyalists who were raiding round Fairfbr&irebk 
and cut them to pieces, killing and wounding 150 and 
prisoners. He even penetrated to a little stockaded 
called Fort "William, within 15 miles of Ninety-Six, 
have captured the garrison if they had not 
fort and fled at his approach. 17 

1T Graham, " Life of General Morgan," p. 262; G. W. GreejfejgdCgie of 
General Greene," vol. iii, p. 135. 



COBNWALLIS was now compelled to do something to check 
Morgan who, indeed, might have made a raid into Georgia if a 
warning from Greene to be careful had not restrained him. 
Cornwallis accordingly resolved to wipe out Morgan and 
advance into North Carolina at the same time. He had just 
received from Charleston the reinforcement of 1500 under Leslie 
from Virginia, and ordering that force to follow him, he moved 
northward. Tarleton meanwhile was sent to make a direct 
attack upon Morgan and either crush him or force him north- 
ward, where Cornwallis with the main body would intercept 
his retreat and annihilate him. 

That being accomplished, says Cornwallis : 

" I likewise hoped by rapid marches to get between General Greene 
and Virginia, and by that means force him to fight, without receiving 
any reinforcement from that province ; or, failing of that, to oblige him 
to quit North Carolina with precipitation, and thereby encourage our 
friends to make good their promises of a general rising to assist me in 
reestablishing his Majesty's government." (" Clinton-Corn wallis Contro- 
versy," vol. i, pp. 316, 355.) 

Tarleton, who went to attack Morgan, had only a slight 
superiority in numbers; and Cornwallis kept the main body 
of the army so far away that it was useless. It was strange 
that he should repeat the same mistake he had made when he 
lost Ferguson's command. 

Morgan, having information of the exact disposition of the 
British forces, conducted his retreat with characteristic coolness 
and intelligence. He abandoned his position at the ford on the 
Pacolett and retired northward, intending to cross the Broad 
Eiver and be in a position to cross the next stream, the Catawba, 
if Cornwallis should press him. 



After marching, however, for two days, pursued by Tarle- 
ton, and reaching the Broad River, he found that Cornwallis 
had not gone far enough north to intercept him. He, there- 
fore, did not cross the Broad, and decided to stop and fight 
Tarleton at the Cowpens, a name given to a place where, as 
we have already seen, a certain loyalist collected his cattle and 
where the riflemen assembled before the battle of King's 

It was a momentous decision to stop and fight rather than 
continue the retreat. It was hardly in keeping with his instruc- 
tions from Greene. But to keep on retreating from a dashing 
young upstart like Tarleton must have been extremely distaste- 
ful to Morgan, who was accustomed to aggressiveness and vic- 
tory. He was too much influenced, it has been supposed, by 
this feeling of anger at being pursued ; and if he had crossed 
the river he could, it is said, have found much better ground 
more favorable to his infantry and more disadvantageous to 
the cavalry of Tarleton. " His decision," says Harry Lee, 
" grew out of irritation of temper, which appears to have 
overruled the suggestions of his sound and discriminating judg- 
ment." But Lee was inclined to be jealous. Morgan had a 
definite plan of his own, and Lee with his usual candor admits 
that even if Morgan's position was erroneous, his disposition 
for battle was masterly. 1 

Various traditional stories have come down to us of the 
conduct of this passionate frontiersman, now a seasoned and 
experienced veteran, on the evening before the battle. He 
wandered among his men, they say, joking them about their 
sweethearts, picking up their swords to give them lessons, and 
then with upraised arm and all the rhetoric of the frontier, 
would tell them that " the old wagoner would crack his whip 
over Ben Tarleton in the morning." 3 

His plan of action was curiously original, evidently wrought 

*Lee, Memoirs, vol. i, p. 253. 

Graham, "Life of General Morgan," pp. 262, 292; G. W. Greene, 
'Life of General Greene," vol. iii, p. 135. 



experience and careful thought. He had a great 
jr r j$litia, and would they ruin him. as they had ruined 
aj^Camden? They were despised by all the continental 
. ? Lu Washington considered them very nearly useless, 
mere skirmishers, and he had condensed his contempt 
ax ^ om ' " No militia will ever acquire the habits 
to res * st a re u l ar force. " But Morgan had invented 
a way of handling them which, as it turned out, revolutionized 

lMfP^jt? ot metilo< * ^ fighting i* 1 the South. 3 
t^tlW ground he had selected seemed to all regular practi- 
tjon^'of war decidedly unfavorable for him. It was an open 
Inace'o^ 'some five hundred yards gradually rising into a small 
ijffl' qnd falling away again to rise into another slight elevation, 
space would seem to give an advantage to Tarleton's 

'av6ri{e r arm, the cavalry. The Broad Eiver in the rear cut 

ftf)** j i 

all chance for the patriots to retreat, and there was no 
pro^eefeon for their flanks. 

" ^sTto his flanks, Morgan said they needed no protection, 
for Tarfeton never attacked in that way ; and as to the river 
ffi^His rear, it was, he said, the very thing he wanted, for it 
wMfi'd^tevent his militia from leaving him. He wished to 
farc W "Ml hope of retreat and place the militia in such a tight 
they would sell their lives dearly. " Had I crossed 
," he said, " one-half the militia would immediately 
have abandoned me." 

Te placed the militia far in the front to receive the first 
British, and told them that he expected them to 

oiiiy j two volleys at killing distance. After that they could 

; Md he showed them how to run round the left flank of 
i^iSPof his troops, and get behind the main body, where they 
6KiifS u ?e-form at their leisure and recover themselves; and he 
fitfew %iie river would prevent their escaping. There seems to 
have been infinite shrewdness in this arrangement, although 
it s a^ih opposition to the opinions of 'most American officers. 

About one hundred and fifty yards behind the militia Mor- 

"^ Writings of Washington,- Ford edition, vol. viii, pp. 440, 506. 



gan placed his picked troops on the small hill, and told them not 
to be alarmed when they saw the militia retreat, for that was 
part of the plan. One hundred and fifty yards farther back 
he placed his cavalry under Colonel Washington. 

Tarleton had about 1000 men, so that in numbers as well as 
in regular discipline he had a superiority over the 800 patriots.* 
With his infantry in the centre, flanked by dragoons, he 
attacked in his usual dashing style, on the morning of the 17th 
of January, 1781. He had been so uneasy lest Morgan should 
escape across the river, that as soon as he came in sight of the 
patriots he prepared for battle without waiting to refresh his 
tired troops. 

As he came on to the charge Morgan's skirmishers emptied 
fifteen of his saddles; and the militia knowing exactly what 
they were to do, behaved much better than was expected. They 
delivered their "two fires at killing distance/' and then re- 
treated as they had been told. The British instantly spread 
out and rushed at the second line of Americans, intending to 
flank them on both sides. The second line avoided this move- 
ment by falling back to the position of the cavalry. At the 
same time the cavalry circled round and attacked the British 
right flank, and the militia, having been re-formed, circled 
round the other side and attacked the British left. The second 
line retreated no farther, and having delivered their fire, 
charged the British. 

The loss of the Americans was the extraordinarily small one 
of only 12 killed and 61 wounded. But Tarleton 's regulars, 
utterly unprepared for this new method of fighting, were com- 
pletely demoralized and broken. They were soon flying for 
their lives, throwing away their arms, or begging for mercy, 
while the patriots, shouting "Tarleton *s quarters, "would have 
begun a general massacre if they had not been stopped by their 
officers. They had killed 100 Englishmen, wounded upwards 

4 The numbers are sometimes given as 1100 for Tarleton and 900 for 
Morgan; but the numbers in the text are those given by Morgan in his 
report. Myers, " Cowpens Papers/' p. 26. 
Vol. H 25 385 


of 200 and taken 600 prisoners. In fact, Tarleton was almost 
as completely routed as Ferguson had been, and was lucky to 
escape with his life. 5 

He had handled his men on much the same principle that 
Ferguson handled his loyalist command at King's Mountain. 
He had abandoned all attempt at shooting and relied entirely 
on charging with the bayonet. In fact, that was all there was 
of Tarleton 's tactics; a sudden dash, usually delivered early 
in the morning, and if that failed, he had no other methods 
or resources. Morgan, having carefully observed and studied 
this British charging habit, had arranged his men so as to 
encourage the enemy to charge as far as possible and exhaust 
themselves. The three separate bodies of American troops be- 
ing one hundred and fifty yards apart, under instructions to 
fall back from the charge in an orderly manner, gave the 
English a run of over 300 yards, at the end of which, when 
they supposed themselves victorious, they were suddenly 
charged by fresh troops and their flanks enveloped. 

The credit of inventing this method and putting the militia 
in front to receive the first onset seems to belong entirely to 
Morgan. Greene adopted it in the subsequent battles of Guil- 
ford Court House and Eutaw Springs, varying it to meet 
peculiar circumstances, and unwisely, perhaps, at Guilf ord, in- 
creasing the length of the open spaces over which he encouraged 
the enemy to charge. 

While charging over the long distances, the British could not 
shoot, and the American marksmen had an opportunity to pick, 
them off. It was this which caused such heavy loss to the 
British at Guilf ord Court House, where they finally compelled 
the Americans to retire. Another important part of the method 

5 Magazine of American History, vol. xxx, p. 207; G. W. Greene, 
" Life of General Greene," vol. iii, p. 147 ; Gordon, " American Revolu- 
tion," edition 1788, vol. iv, p. 33; B. F. Stevens, " Clinton-Cornwallis 
Controversy," vol. i, pp. 319-321; Draper, "King's Mountain and Its 
Heroes," p. 285 note; Lee, Memoirs, vol. i, pp.' 256-266; Tarleton, 
Narrative, pp. 210-222; Johnson, "Life of Greene," vol. i, pp. 368-387; 
Graham, "Life of Morgan;" Myers, " Cowpens Papers." 



was that at first only a portion of the American force was 
used, the rest remaining in reserve and fresh to take advan- 
tage of the British mistake of using too many of their force 
in the beginning, in the hope of carrying everything with a 

Cornwallis and his officers never changed their tactics to 
meet the Morgan method, except to become more desperate in 
their bayonet charges. They were neither tacticians nor strate- 
gists. They had none of General Howe's skill at flanking move- 
ments by which he twice defeated Washington. They appear 
to have known nothing but a direct front attack, and they 
usually made it with such a narrow column that its flanks 
could be enveloped. 

The Battle of the Cowpens was a magnificent victory for 
Morgan. For Cornwallis it was an inexcusable disgrace. 
Three months before he had allowed. Ferguson to isolate him- 
self with a weak detachment, which had been lost ; and now he 
had again made the same mistake, although he had had abund- 
ance of troops with which to make Tarleton's detachment strong 
enough to accomplish its purpose. 

The effect on the patriot party of Morgan's victory was 
most reviving and stimulating; and the news of it arrived only 
a few weeks after a most depressing incident which at first 
bore the appearance of a disbanding of Washington's army. 
His troops, ragged and starved, and living from hand to mouth, 
had not been paid, even in depreciated Continental money, for 
a year. The time of those who, after the Battle of Saratoga, had 
enlisted " for three years or during the war," had expired. 
" Three years or the war " had meant that if the war closed, 
as was expected, before the three years were out, the men should 
be discharged. When the war continued for more than three 
years the officers gave a new meaning to the words " for the 
war," and the men had unwillingly submitted to this con- 
struction. But now they insisted on their discharge and their 

On the 1st of January, 1781, thirteen hundred of the 'Penn- 
sylvania. Line/ '.as Wayne's hard drinking Scotch. Irishmen 



were called, marched from Morristown for Philadelphia under 
command of three sergeants, with the intention of forcing the 
Congress to pay them. Such a disorderly event caused much 
ridicule among loyalists and British, and seemed to show that 
the end was near. But the mutineers rejected British offers 
to receive them and turned over to the hangman the British 
emissaries. By the greatest exertions of leading patriots, who 
met them at Princeton, the mutineers were quieted and pre- 
vented from reaching Philadelphia; but this was done by 
yielding to all their demands for discharge and pay. Another 
small detachment that threatened mutiny was subdued by force 
and by the shooting of two of the ringleaders. But Washing- 
ton 's whole army seemed on the eve of dissolution. 6 

Morgan, although he had defeated Tarleton, was still in a 
dangerous position. He had risked a great deal in stopping to 
fight. His force was still an isolated detachment, and Corn- 
wallis, with a superior force, was not far away, intending to 
cut off his retreat. 

Morgan, however, lost no time. He crossed the Broad River 
on the afternoon of the battle, and early the next morning 
started northeastward to reach the Catawba as quickly as pos- 
sible and put it between himself and Cornwallis. But com- 
pelled to collect his food from the country, with roads deep 
in mud, streams swollen by the rains, and tired troops, he could 
make only ten miles a day. 

It has usually been supposed that Cornwallis now had an 
opportunity of annihilating him; but he lost it by delay. He 
waited to be joined by Leslie and he waited to collect the 
remains of Tarleton 's scattered command; and then, supposing 
that Morgan would remain near the scene of his recent exploit, 
or move down on Ninety-Six, he began to look for him in that 

Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. ix, pp. 87-98, 100-102, 
117-119, 121-123; "Life of Joseph Reed," by W. B. Reed, vol. ii, p. 325; 
Bolton, " Private Soldier under Washington," pp. 65, 67, 70 ; Magazine of 
American History, vol. x, p. 331; Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 
1788, vol. iv, pp. 16-22; J. J. Boudinot, "Life of Boudinot," vol. i, p. 
207; Stale, "Life of Wayne," pp. 239-262; Lee, Memoirs, vol. ii, p. 203. 

y 388 


direction. He lost valuable time hunting in the west for an 
enemy that was all the time travelling northeast. When finally 
he turned in the right direction, and reached the Catawba, he 
found that Morgan had crossed it two days ahead of him and 
was safe from pursuit. A large portion of his militia, whose 
time had expired, were leaving him and scattering to their 

Cornwallis had been outgeneralled and surely it was now 
the best policy for him to obey Clinton's orders, make sure of 
the safety of South Carolina and Georgia and abandon the 
invasion of North Carolina as he had done when Ferguson had 
been cut off. After such heavy losses as the disaster to Fergu- 
son and the disaster to Tarleton, it was not a time for taking 
still greater risks. But whom the gods intend to destroy they 
first make mad; and maddened by an extravagant desire to 
push northward into Virginia, inflated by his lucky victory over 
Gates the year before, encouraged by the confidence of the 
Ministry and his contempt for Clinton's defensive methods, he 
actually decided to follow on after Morgan and make a tour 
of conquest through North Carolina into Virginia. 

His avowed theory of action was that Clinton's absurd 
defensive measures must cease. Nothing could ever be accom- 
plished by them. The British empire in America could be 
saved only by active aggression; and this aggressiveness must 
not be checked by a mere incidental disaster like that which 
had just befallen Tarleton at the Cowpens. 

"The unfortunate affair of the 17th of January," he writes to the 
Ministry, "was a very unexpected and severe blow; for besides reputa- 
tion our loss did not fall short of 600 men; however, being thoroughly 
sensible that defensive measures would be certain ruin to the affairs of 
Britain in the southern colonies, this event did not deter me from prose- 
cuting the original plan/* (B. F. Stevens, ** Clinton-Cornwallis Contro- 
versy/' vol. ii, pp. 355, 356.) 

In the controversy over his conduct several years afterwards 
he gave in more detail his reasons for attempting a second time 
an undertaking in which he had once already so lamentably 



" I was principally induced to decide in favor of its expediency from 
a clear conviction that the men and treasures of Britain would be 
lavished in vain upon the American war without the most active exertions 
of the troops allotted for that service; and that while the enemy could 
draw their supplies from North Carolina and Virginia, the defence of 
the frontier of South Carolina, even against an inferior army, would be 
from its extent, the nature of the climate, and the disposition of the 
inhabitants, utterly impracticable. The many untoward circumstances, 
which occurred during the four months succeeding the complete victory 
of Camden, had entirely confirmed me in this opinion. Our hopes of 
success in offensive operations, were not founded only upon the efforts of 
the corps under my immediate command, which did not much exceed 
three thousand men; but principally upon the most positive assurances, 
given by apparently credible deputies and emissaries, that upon the 
appearance of a British army in North Carolina, a great body of the 
inhabitants were ready to join and co-operate with it in endeavoring to 
restore his Majesty's government." (B. F. Stevens, " Clinton-Cornwallis 
Controversy," vol. i, p. 65; see also pp. 237, 238.) 

It will be observed that lie says that he relied for success, 
not alone upon his army, "but principally upon the most posi- 
tive assurances " that there would be an uprising of loyalists 
to assist him. How he could rely on such assurances after his 
recent experience, when he and Ferguson invaded North Caro- 
lina, is difficult to understand. 

If, as he says, the South Carolina frontier could not be de- 
fended under present conditions, how could he hope to main- 
tain his force of only 3000 up in North Carolina, farther from 
his base of supplies than when he had them down in South Caro- 
lina? And if he took those 3000 up into North Carolina, was 
he not rendering the garrisons in South Carolina still weaker 
and giving the patriots a chance to attack them in his rear and 
cut his communications? 

But all these difficulties he seems to have thought would 
be obviated by that great uprising of loyalists on which he 
"principally" relied. His aide-de-camp, Captain Boss, had 
recently returned from a visit to the Ministry in England, 
and brought, Clinton says, the messages and encouragement 
which started his Lordship on this mad career of northern con- 
quest. About this time, strange to say, the old outer fortifi- 



cations of Charleston were levelled and he was thus leaving 
South Carolina more defenceless than ever. 

He was so full of blind confidence and so carried away by 
his ambition, that he ordered all the heavy and superfluous 
baggage of the army to be collected in one place and burnt, 
and he encouraged the sacrifice by burning his own. Thus 
lightly equipped for the heavy task before him, he started 
northward through the centre of that state which had so long 
been the object of his ambition. It was an expedition which, 
as Clinton said, lost England the American continent. 7 

T B. F. Stevens, " Clinton-Cornwallis Controversy," vol. I, pp. 312 
note, 313 note, 321 note, 34 note. 44 note, 61 note, 64 note, 102 note, 106, 
250 note, 484; Clinton, "Observations on Stedman's American War," 
p. 23. 



ABOUT a week after its occurrence Greene heard the joyful 
news of the Battle of Cowpens. Although delighted beyond 
measure, he seems to have thought the situation very serious, 
that he could no longer remain where he was, that Morgan 
would be pursued, and that there must be a race northward 
to save him. 

He prepared his army for marching; he sent word to his 
commissaries at Salisbury and Hillsboro to remove their 
stores into Virginia ; he directed the quartermaster-general to 
have boats in readiness at the Dan River on the borders of that 
state so that if necessary his army might pass quickly over; 
and he urged the patriot governors of North Carolina and 
Virginia to hasten the recruits. Then putting his army in com- 
mand of Major-General Huger, with instructions to proceed 
as fast as possible to Salisbury, he took an aide with a guard 
of cavalry and hurried to join Morgan's division. 

It was a ride of one hundred and fifty miles through a 
loyalist country; a heavy rain was falling and the streams 
were flooded; but " the birds are singing," he wrote to his 
wife, " and the frogs are peeping in the same manner they are 
in April to the northward/' When he reached Morgan he 
found that that hero intended to escape with his army to the 
western mountains, a method which would undoubtedly be the 
surest way to save his own force and keep control of his pris- 
oners; but it was hardly compatible with Greene's plan of 
uniting the two patriot divisions and falling back on his base 
in Virginia. The western escape was promptly forbidden, and 
when Morgan, somewhat nettled, said that he would then be no 
longer responsible for consequences, Greene replied, " neither 
shall you, for the measure is my own." 1 

1 Lee, Memoirs, vol. i, p. 392. 



Greene's whole purpose was now concentrated on having 
Cornwallis pursue both patriot divisions across North Carolina 
into Virginia. He was delighted when he heard that Corn- 
wallis, having abandoned his baggage, was pushing northward, 
and he exclaimed, with an excited gesture, " Then he is ours." 

He had some thoughts of using Morgan's whole force to 
dispute with Cornwallis the passage of the Catawba while it 
was in high flood. But the rain ceased and the river fell so 
fast that this plan was abandoned. Morgan was ordered to 
press on northward towards Virginia, while Greene lingered in 
the rear encouraging the militia of the country to move back 
to the Catawba and dispute its passage as much as possible. 

Meantime Cornwallis was on the other side of the Catawba 
waiting for its swollen waters to fall, and on the night of the 
first of February he determined to force a passage at Me- 
Gowan's Ford, for it was again raining and the ford would 
soon be impassable. The water at the ford had fallen to three 
O four feet in depth, but was 500 yards wide and rushing down 
with an impetuous torrent. Before starting he destroyed more 
of his baggage and determined on a hot pursuit. 

The crossing of this strange American river in the dim light 
before dawn, with its yellow torrent drowning all other sounds, 
and patriot militia guarding the opposite shore, was always 
regarded by the English as one of the great and romantic 
feats of the war. All went well till they reached the middle 
of the stream, when the lights from the watch fires on the other 
bank shone upon them and the militia under Davidson began 
to fire. Wounded horses reared and plunged, and were swept 
down by the stream with dead and wounded men. O'Hara's 
horse rolled over with him in the water. Cornwallis 's horse 
was shot, but carried the general to the shore and then fell dead 
under him. The guides who were showing the British the 
shoalest places fled. This was fortunate, because the guides 
would have followed the ford which led to where three hundred 
militia were prepared to renew memories of Bunker Hill on 
a British enemy waist deep in water. Without their guides 
the English went straight to the nearest bank, and forming 



in battle order, a sharp contest followed, in which the militia 
were driven off and Davidson killed. 2 

The next day Tarleton followed on the track of three hun- 
dred of the militia and tried to dash into them at noon while 
they were at dinner. But his method, once so effective, had 
grown stale. The militia were watching for him. When he 
arrived and charged with the cry, " Remember the Cowpens," 
they were all in their saddles, gave a volley, and retreated. 

The next great yellow river to the north and east was the 
Tadkin, towards which Greene and Morgan were pressing, fol- 
lowed by swarms of the inhabitants of the country with their 
household goods in wagons and on pack horses, hurrying to keep 
out of the way of the mighty invader who was now straining 
every nerve to force the whole patriot throng against the river 
and destroy them. It was a close race, for the great mass 
moved slowly. But Greene had sent men ahead to collect boats 
at the ford. On the evening of the 3rd of February the whole 
patriot throng, except the rear guard and three wagons, had 
crossed the river at the Trading Ford, east of Salisbury, just 
as the British advance arrived, when the guard abandoned the 
wagons and escaped. The British did not attempt to cross at 
that ford with the water deep, no boats, and the enemy on the 
opposite bank; but, as Tarleton tells us, they went far to the 
northward and crossed by the Shallow Ford, which brought 
them into the region of the old Moravian towns and their fertile 
fields. 3 

Greene's crossing of the Tadkin was considered very lucky 
with the British so close behind, for an accidental delay of an 
hour might have precipitated a patriot disaster. It shows how 
much Greene had risked in isolating his two detachments, and 

a Lee, Memoirs, vol. i, p. 269; Gordon, "American Revolution," 
edition 1788, vol. iv, p. 39; Stedman, (t American War," edition 1794, 
vol. ii, p. 328; Tarleton, Narrative, pp. 224-226, 262; G. W. Greene. 
" Life of General Greene," vol. iii, p. 155 ; B. F. Stevens, " Clinton- 
Cornwallis Controversy," vol. i, ,p. 357 ; Johnson, " Life of Greene,'* vol. 
i, p. 416. 

8 Tarleton, Narrative, pp. 227, 228. 



that it might still require the utmost exertion of American 
and partisan alertness to save Morgan's division. 

It was midwinter, which in that region is a period of occa- 
sional heavy rains, sometimes mingled with snow or sleet. But 
there are many days of moderate temperature, delicious invig- 
orating air and bright sunshine which sets all the pine trees- 
glistening. It is delightful weather for an outing, and the same 
climate which now attracts so many northern sportsmen who 
tramp through the sticky red mud and watch the illusive coveys 
of quail fly across the great yellow rivers which were such 
problems to Greene and Cornwallis. 

The next river was the Dan, on the borders of Virginia, 
and if both the patriot divisions escaped across it the whole 
plan of Cornwallis for the conquest of North Carolina would 
fail. The whole object of his mad chase northward was to 
come up with at least one of the divisions and destroy it. If 
he failed in this, and the divisions remained intact, they might 
return and attack any garrisons he left to hold the state. He 
could not conquer North Carolina merely by making a trip 
across it; it could be conquered only by destroying Greene's 
army, and then encouraging and arming the loyalists in such 
numbers that they would be able to assume political control. 4 

North Carolina was at that time largely in a semi-wilderness 
condition. The whole population of the state was not more 
than 200,000, including negroes; and all these people were 
spread over vast spaces. Charlotte, Salisbury and Hills- 
boro, which were the towns of the region Cornwallis was invad- 
ing, were mere frontier villages, no one of them able to boast 
of a hundred houses; and the population of the state was 
largely composed of Germans, Swiss, Scotch, Scotch-Irish, 
Dutch and French, mixed with English settlers. 5 

There was a certain number of very devoted patriots, as the 
Mecklenburg Resolutions of 1775 abundantly prove. But a 
large part of the population being of mixed nationality, and 

* B. F. Stevens, te Clinton-Cornwallis Controversy," vol. ii, p. 121. 

G-. W. Greene, " Life of General Greene," vol. iii, p. 10. 



recently from Europe, felt no strong interest in the state, 
and while often classed as loyalists, cared little for either side. 
This characteristic of the people, together with their wide 
dispersion, made it a difficult state to conquer and occupy; 
for the vast distances were more dangerous than the inhabitants 
and equivalent to a second patriot army. 

Thus far Cornwallis had failed to take advantage of 
Greene's division of the patriot force into two isolated detach- 
ments. The divisions had been too fleet for him. The more 
he pursued them the closer he drove them to their base of sup- 
plies, while he was lengthening his own line of communications 
and moving farther from his base. The two divisions were now 
marching almost parallel, would soon join, and then might be 
better able to protect themselves. 

Cornwallis, by crossing at the Shallow Ford of the Tadkin, 
was now considerably to the westward of Greene's two divis- 
ions and parallel with them ; and he believed that he could force 
them to fight. He had, as he thought, reliable information that 
Greene could not obtain boats enough to cross a river like the 
Dan, which was very deep in its lower course near where Greene 
was; and Cornwallis accordingly took his Majesty's army 
towards the upper and easier fords of the Dan, so as to force 
Greene down to the deeper ones. 

This was another mistake and suited Greene exactly. 
" Prom Cornwallis J s pressing disposition," he said, " and the 
contempt he has for our army we may precipitate him into 
some capital misfortune/' a Feeling sure of his ability to cross 
the Dan at any point, Greene now arranged for his two divisions 
to meet at Guilford Court House, which lies west of Hills- 
boro, near the Alamance; and there on the 9th of February 
the two isolated detachments became one. 

Strengthened by this junction Greene decided to wait for 
Cornwallis to attack him and settle the control of North Caro- 
lina. A stout patriot defence and safe retreat, or even a 

Lee, Memoirs, vol. i, p. 273; G. W. Greene, "Life of General 
Greene," vol. iii, p. 162. 



drawn battle, with Cornwallis so far from his base, would crip- 
ple him enough to force his retreat back to South Carolina, 
while the patriot army being now close to its base and refuge 
in Virginia, had all the advantage of the situation. 

But, after choosing and studying the ground, Greene found 
that the reinforcements he expected from Virginia had been 
unable to leave that state because it was invaded by a British 
force. This force was a detachment in command of the traitor 
Arnold, who had been sent to Virginia by Clinton under the 
instructions of the Ministry to support Cornwallis in his plan 
of conquering North Carolina. Greene's whole army after the 
junction of the two divisions contained barely 2000 men, one- 
quarter of them militia, all dispirited and fatigued, and some 
unfit for duty. There would be too much risk in trying for 
even a drawn battle against the 2500 or 3000 regulars under 
Cornwallis. So Greene started for the Dan, seventy miles 
away, through a red clay region of miry roads, rendered almost 
impassable by the February rains. 

The delay caused by studying the battlefield at Guilford 
had brought Cornwallis nearer, and retreat was by no means so 
easy for Greene as it had been a few days before. In fact, it 
was extremely dangerous, and might easily end in a disaster 
which would possibly justify the British general's disobedience 
of orders and his wild chase far from his base of supplies. 
Greene was laboring under all the disadvantages of flying from 
a superior force which was close behind him without baggage 
and eager in pursuit. That race through seventy miles of rain 
and mud to the Dan River would evidently be a terrible one, 
which would test the mettle of both generals, and Greene had 
made careful preparations. 

He had sent away his heavy baggage. He had ordered boats 
to be collected at Boyd's Ferry on the Dan, and he had sent 
word to the partisan leaders, Marion, Sumter, and Pickens, to 
raid in the rear of Cornwallis. To check the pursuit and gain 
time for the main body of the patriot army Greene placed in 
its rear seven hundred picked men, cavalry, light infantry 
and riflemen under the command of Otho "Williams, with orders 



to stay in front of Cornwallis and, by continuous and cautious 
fighting and disputing every inch of ground, delay the British 
progress sufficiently to allow the patriot army to cross the Dan. 

The command of this rear guard, on which the fate of the 
whole army depended, would naturally have fallen to Morgan. 
It was offered to him, and when he declined he was again urged 
to accept it by the personal efforts of Light Horse Lee. But 
he 'persisted in his refusal, giving as his reason, that he was 
suffering greatly from rheumatism and ague and intended to 
retire from the army. Lee intimates that his excuse was not 
considered sufficient, and that his going off at this critical 
period was generally regarded as rather unpatriotic. He is 
supposed to have been nettled at the rejection of his plan of 
escape by the western mountains, or had no faith in Greene's 
audacious plan of decoying Cornwallis up to Virginia, or pos- 
sibly he did not relish becoming a mere subordinate after win- 
ning on his own responsibility what he knew was one of the 
greatest victories of the war. "Well deserved promotion had 
until recently been denied him, and there was evidently some 
opposition to him in the Congress if not in the army. 

But the suspicions of his motives seem to have been un- 
founded. He retired because he had become incapacitated by 
rheumatism and ague. His wonderful victory, rough origin 
and lack of education naturally aroused jealousy and carping 
criticism. That one of the most important battles of the war 
should have been won contrary to military rules, and by the 
rheumatic old wagoner of the Alleghanies, was to a ^ certain 
class of minds a very painful circumstance. The Cowpens 
ended his military career in the Revolution. He retired to his 
Virginia home, where he became prosperous in farming, and 
after the war was elected a member of the Congress. 

Williams was by no means inadequate to the command of 
the rear guard. His first appearance in front of Cornwallis 
was eminently successful, and caused a delay while the British 
officers reconnoitred to learn the numbers and probable inten- 
tion of their enemy; Then they pressed on driving Williams 
1 slowly before* them, while Greene with the rest of the army 



hurried toward the ford. Williams gained another delay by 
leading Cornwallis somewhat aside from the course followed 
by Greene. But this could not be kept up or the British might 
have slipped in between Williams and Greene. 

At night both sides halted; but half of Williams 's force 
kept watch while the other half slept for six hours. The 
utmost watchfulness was necessary to prevent Cornwallis pass- 
ing ahead of the rear guard and cutting it off. At three o'clock 
in the morning Williams 's men were again in motion, and 
those who had been guarding would sleep the following night. 
Thus there was six hours sleep in forty-eight during this three 
days' struggle to reach the Dan. The Americans of both 
divisions had only their clothes or rags for covering; no tents 
and only one blanket to every three men. They were drenched 
with the continual rains which at times turned to snow, and 
hundreds of them were barefooted and tracking the ground 
with blood, as in the winter campaigns in New Jersey and 
Pennsylvania. But there could be no rest, for on this struggle 
the result of the Revolution seemed to depend. 

The North Carolina militia lost heart, and on the third 
day all but eighty had deserted and scattered to their homes. 
Williams had stopped fighting the British advance.; for he 
found it only a waste of strength. He merely kept on ahead 
of them while they followed him at an even pace. Their 
advance under 'Hara was often within musket shot of his rear 
under Lee, neither side firing, but husbanding all their efforts 
for the march. Thus the three separate bodies under Greene, 
Williams and Cornwallis, all greatly fatigued, kept following 
one another, utterly unable to change their relative positions 
in the exhausting race. 

On the evening of the third day Cornwallis kept up the pur- 
suit long after dark, and then after a short halt took it up 
again at midnight, driving in Williams 's videttes and compell- 
ing his weary men to rouse from their beds of mud and stumble 
on through the darkness. They were nearing the river and 
Cornwallis was making a final effort to exhaust the endurance 
of the rear guard. 



The next morning lie was still driving them, both sides stop- 
ping, as if by agreement, for an hour to eat breakfast. Then, 
tip again and on for the rest of the day ; but at noon Williams 's 
men began cheering. A messenger had reached them to say 
that Greene's division had crossed the Dan at Boyd's Ford the 
day before. 

But there was no pause in the hot pursuit of Cornwallis. 
Even when night came, he drove Williams through the dark- 
ness straight to the river, where Greene's preparations were 
so complete that the force of Williams was all across when 
the British reached the shore. 7 

T Gk W. Greene, "Life of General Greene/' vol. iii, chap, x; Gordon, 
"American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iv, pp. 43-46; Lee, Memoirs, 
vol. i, pp. 272-298? Johnson, "I4fe of Greene/' vol. i, pp. 408-413. 



GREENE'S escape across the Dan, though not conspicuous and 
popular like a battle, was regarded as one of the most important 
events of the Eevolution. Greene had delayed so long to study 
the field at Guilf ord that he was within an ace of destruction ; 
and if his army had been broken up the best that could be 
expected for the patriot cause would have been that the Caro- 
linas, Georgia and Florida would remain provinces of the 
British empire, with Virginia as the frontier of the independent 
northern states. The lower half of Virginia as far up as the 
James, and possibly as far up as the Potomac, would, in Lee's 
opinion, soon have surrendered or voluntarily asked for annexa- 
tion to England. 

This was no fanciful anxiety, for with Prance unable to 
assist us, there was already a party in the Congress that 
favored abandoning the South. Greene had been sent to the 
Carolinas as the last experiment, the last forlorn hope, and if 
he failed the hopelessness of another attempt would have 
seemed so evident that the Congress would probably have con- 
fined all its energies to saving the North. 

But now Greene's soldiers, safe across the Dan, relieved 
from their terrible fatigue and conscious of their success, spent 
several days in rest and rejoicing, interspersing the time with 
endless anecdotes of their eventful race. As for Cornwallis, 
it was impossible to deny that he had driven Greene out of 
North Carolina. But he could not follow him into Virginia 
with any prospect of coming up with him; and Arnold with 
a British force at Norfolk was too far away to assist such a 

Cornwallis, therefore, turned to that plan he always had in 
mind and tried to arouse the loyalists of North Carolina by 
announcing his conquest of their province. He had driven out 

Vol. 1126 401 


the enemy, therefore all loyal subjects of the King should 
rejoice. Marching his army to Hillsboro, he erected there with 
due formality, on the 23d of February, the royal standard, and 
issued a proclamation calling for that great loyalist army 
on which he placed all his hopes and with which he intended to 
conquer Virginia. 

He began to meet with considerable success, and received 
in one day offers of seven independent companies. Greene was 
filled with the greatest anxiety. The people, he said, were flock- 
ing to Cornwallis for protection and to enlist, and something 
must be done to stop this rising tide of loyalism, or the British 
army would soon be increased by several thousand fighting 
men. Greene accordingly ordered Pickens and Harry Lee to 
return with their light troops into North Carolina to terrify 
the loyalists; and a day or two afterwards the main body of 
the patriot army followed, and held itself ready to retreat 
westward, while Lee and Pickens began to raid close about the 
army of Cornwallis. 

While trying to surprise Tarleton, who was encouraging and 
protecting loyalist recruits, Lee suddenly came upon a body of 
three hundred loyalists just recruited by a Colonel Pyle, who, 
not recognizing Lee's men, allowed them to draw up beside him 
on the road. Lee intended to watch a favorable moment and 
then quietly demand their surrender; but as he was on the 
point of grasping Pyle's hand for the purpose, his men were 
recognized and the loyalists began to fire. The contest, how- 
ever, was very brief with troopers like those of Lee. In a few 
moments ninety of the loyalists were dead and nearly all the 
rest wounded in a struggle which the British described as a 
massacre and prisoner killing. 1 

Lee defended the conduct of his men as necessary to their 

1 Lee, Memoirs, vol. i, pp. 302-312 ; Gordon, " American Revolution," 
edition 1788, vol. iv, p. 48; G. W. Greene, "Life of General Greene," 
vol. iii, pp. 182, 183 and note; B. F. Stevens, " Clinton-Cornwallis Con- 
troversy/' vol. i, pp. 327, 360; W. B. Reed, "Life of Joseph Reed," vol. 
ii, p. 34; Tarleton, Narrative, pp. 230-233, 265; Johnson, <r Life of 
Greene," vol. i, p. 453. 



own preservation. But whatever it was, we can readily under- 
stand that its effect on loyalist recruiting was very discourag- 
ing. The rising tide of loyalism slackened and fell away; and 
from this we learn something of the nature of loyalism in 
North Carolina. 

The so-called loyalists were not those devoted subjects of 
his Majesty, filled with the " dutiful obedience" of which so 
much has been heard, but that mixed population of varied 
nationality, recently from Europe. They probably bore little 
or no resemblance to the homogeneous, acclimated, native 
stock which we now find in the South and which seem incapable 
of the conduct of the so-called loyalists of the Revolution. They 
were shifting their ground every day with change of circum- 
stances, and this probably accounts for the contradictory com- 
plaints we find in the letters of Greene and of Cornwallis. One 
was constantly complaining that there seemed to be scarcely any 
patriots and the other that there seemed to be scarcely any 

The weak point in the position of Cornwallis was now 
developing. He had not destroyed Greene's army; and while 
that army existed, North Carolina was unconquered. Greene 
was not stupid enough to repose in Virginia while Cornwallis 
organized loyalism on the other side of the Dan. 

Greene had now received part of the reinforcements he 
had been expecting, and, though they were mere militiamen, he 
determined to remain as best he could in North Carolina, in 
order to keep down loyalism, which recent events showed would 
rise as soon as there was opportunity. He was more than ever 
convinced that the majority of the people in the state were 
loyalists, and that he must scare them from joining the British, 
or Cornwallis would have such numbers that he could break 
up the patriot army and hold the country. He felt confident 
that by skilful manoeuvring he could avoid a battle and keep 
open his communications with Virginia until the rest of his 
reinforcements arrived. 

Cornwallis now abandoned Hillsboro and took a position on 
the Alamance to encourage the loyalists of that region. Greene 



was a few miles to the westward somewhat protected by being 
in the triangle formed by Troublesome Creek and Eeedy Fork, 
which flow into the Little Alamance. To prevent Cornwallis 
attacking him he exercised again that elaborate watchfulness, 
which had saved him during the last two months, when he vio- 
lated the rule of war by dividing his army into two isolated 
detachments. His army now never passed two successive nights 
in the same spot, and no one except Greene knew where the 
next camp would be until they heard the order to halt and 

He decided everything for himself and held no councils of 
war. His men had supreme confidence in his capacity for any 
emergency, and he inspired their enthusiasm by his familiar 
manner, indifference to hardships and ceaseless vigilance. He 
would often turn out before dawn and visit every sentinel at his 
post. A large part of his best and lightest equipped troops, 
under Otho Williams aided by Lee and Pickens, watched Corn- 
wallis day and night, and kept between the two armies to pre- 
vent every chance of a surprise. It was only by this ex- 
traordinary care that Greene could keep his position in the 
presence of a superior and desperate enemy, who was watching 
eagerly for a mistake. 

One morning under cover of a fog, Cornwallis attempted 
with his whole force to surprise Williams, and reach Greene's 
main army. But the Marylander was too alert, and, after a 
sharp action on the Reedy Fork, Cornwallis abandoned the 
attempt ; and two other attempts to reach Greene also failed. 

Greene's daily movements within the triangle of the two 
streams continued for over two weeks to the great alarm of the 
loyalists, who kept close at home and had lost all their passion 
for recruiting. Meantime, reinforcements were arriving, and 
on the 14th of March Greene, with the goodly number of 4400 
men, came out of the triangle and took a position at Guilford 
Court House where a month before he had intended to offer 
battle. 2 

a Lee, Memoirs, vol. i, pp. 321-339. 



A battle was absolutely necessary for both generals. Corn- 
wallis could never persuade the heterogeneous inhabitants of 
North Carolina to hold the state for the King unless he defeated 
Greene and proved that he could protect them from the patriots. 
Greene could never save North Carolina for patriotism unless 
he defeated Cornwallis ; and now was his best chance before his 
newly arrived militia reinforcements deserted him. The British 
general, far from his base of supplies, with desertion constantly 
depleting his troops, was anxious for a battle, and as soon as 
he saw Greene had chosen a battle-ground, he attacked him the 
next day. 



GUILFOBD COURT HOUSE was at that time a building standing 
alone in a clearing, without any village or settlement, and was 
used for the slight judicial needs of a half wilderness country. 
The open spaces around it seemed to Greene well suited to 
his purpose, and in arranging his troops for this battle of the 
15th of March he followed Morgan's plan which had won the 
Battle of the Cowpens. The ground was very similar to the 
Cowpens, open with a slight slope, and on this rising ground 
Greene drew up his army, after the manner of Morgan, in 
three distinct divisions, one behind the other, with the worst 
militia in the front division. 

Morgan had placed his divisions about one hundred and 
fifty yards apart ; but Greene placed his second line three hun- 
dred yards behind the first and the third four hundred yards 
behind the second, offering three successive barriers, very far 
apart, each of which must be overcome by the British charge 
before the other could be reached. He is even said to have 
followed Morgan's plan of telling the front division of militia 
that after having fired two rounds they could retreat. The 
cavalry, which Morgan had placed in the rear, Greene placed 
on the flanks. 

He had made, however, a rather unfortunate variation in 
the Morgan method by placing his divisions so far apart that 
the front division of militia felt isolated and timid. His second 
division was composed of militia with guards behind them 
to shoot down those who should retreat too soon. The third 
line, composed of the continentals and veterans, under Huger 
and "Williams, would, it was hoped, save the day when the 
British were exhausted by forcing the first two divisions. 

Cornwallis, who was almost as simple and direct in his 
tactics as Gates, formed his whole army in close array with the 



intention of hurling the mass at the enemy and relying, in true 
British fashion, upon the bayonet. As his men were such poor 
marksmen, and opposed to such good ones, and many of the 
militia had rifles, this bayonet method had certain advantages. 
The rush that accompanied it certainly had a terrifying effect 
on the first division, composed of North Carolina militia; for 
a large part of them broke and fled, throwing away their 
loaded guns and cartouche boxes and nearly half of them, 
Greene said, never fired at all. 

The militia were certainly a strange arm of the service in 
the Revolution, sometimes so efficient as at Bennington, Sara- 
toga and the Cowpens, and sometimes so worthless as at Cam- 
den and Guilford Court House. 

An incident of this attack on the first line is described by 
a British sergeant, and shows how one side relied on accurate 
shooting and the other on desperate charging; and also that 
the part of the first line to which the sergeant was opposed, 
stood their ground for a time, and aimed true. 

" Instantly the movement was made, in excellent order, in a smart 
run with arms charged; when arrived within forty yards of the enemy's 
line, it was perceived that this whole force had their weapons presented 
and resting on a rail fence, the common partitions in America. They 
were taking aim with nicest precision." (Journal of Sergeant Lamb, 
p. 361.) 

The sergeant's regiment was completely taken aback and 
halted when they saw that deadly aim; but their officers 
urged them on, and Colonel Webster led them in person. They 
rushed upon the rail fence, but with terrible havoc in their 
ranks when the Americans touched the triggers. 

The whole British force was now dashing upon the second 
division with loud cheers; but they quickly found themselves 
attacked on both flanks by the cavalry under Lee and Washing- 
ton, which Greene had placed on his own flanks for this pur- 
pose. The too simple arrangement of Cornwallis now became 
apparent, for he had no flankers of his own, and he had to 
halt his whole force and face round several regiments to pro- 
tect himself from this unexpected flank attack. 



Slowly he drove back the cavalry, who still kept firing until 
they joined the second militia division, composed largely of 
Virginians. This division did not flinch, but loaded and fired 
with absolute steadiness; and the British lost heavily before 
their bayonet method could force back the right of the Ameri- 

Cornwallis was now in a bad position. His whole infantry 
force was in action ; he had no reserves ; and his whole force, 
besides its losses, was more or less disunited by having had to 
face so often in different directions. Having bent the second 
division round until it was almost at right angles with the 
third, his own left which had done this work came close to 
the third division of veteran continentals, who fired and charged 
giving the British left such an experience of the American 
bayonet that they were completely routed. 

It has been supposed that heavy charging by the American 
infantry and cavalry at this moment might have defeated the 
whole British army. But Greene, finding the battle going 
against him rather more than he expected, was unwilling to risk 
his reserves and last line in a charge. Cornwallis very soon 
succeeded in forcing back the rest of the second division, and 
was then able to unite all his forces and carry out his theory 
of the fight, which was to hurl a solid mass upon the Americans. 
When this solid mass reached the American third division, a 
raw Maryland regiment gave way, endangering the whole 
division. But that weak regiment was quickly replaced by 
another, the continentals charged and were assisted by a 
brilliant dash of Washington's cavalry. 

This completely changed the tide of the battle. The Brit- 
ish were staggered and fell back so far that Cornwallis, believ- 
ing a disaster impending, ordered some field pieces to fire into 
the combat, although, as he admitted, they were as likely to 
kill as many of his own men as of the enemy. "It is a necessary 
evil," he said, " which we must endure to avert impending 
destruction." He stopped in this way, it is said, the American 
piirsuit, but with terrible loss among his own men. 

Greene had hoped to wipe out the army of Cornwallis in 



this Battle of Guilf ord Court House ; but it is a commonplace 
of military history that a general seldom accomplishes a pur- 
pose exactly as he plans it, Greene now saw very clearly that 
the chances had turned against him, and that he could not win 
an out and out victory. He therefore decided to retire; for 
the British were coming on again with more method in their 
madness, and trying to envelop both his flanks. His men were 
still perfectly capable of making an orderly retreat, and they 
immediately did so, fighting as they fell back towards the Reedy 
Fork, and retiring into, the protecting triangle formed by that 
stream and Troublesome Creek. 

As his army marched along that night to reach their favorite 
retreat, the American and English wounded lay together on 
the battlefield, their screams and groans mingling with the 
rain which poured down on the scene of the most hotly contested 
action of the Revolution. 

In no battle of the war did the English soldiers fight so 
well. Their repeated and desperate charges in the face of 
American marksmanship must be recorded to their credit. Their 
heroism and determination, says Stedman, excelled anything 
that was done on the famous fields of Crecy, of Poictiers, and 
of Agincourt. It is evident that Greene was surprised at their 
persistence and had expected to have easier work with them. 
A possible explanation of the unusual energy of the English 
lies in the reflection that for several months they had been 
marching and bivouacking in the open air without tents or 
baggage, leading, in short, the American life of hunters and 
frontiersmen, until they somewhat resembled that class of our 
people. They had become, in a sense, picked men and rather 
superior to the ordinary British regulars recruited in the slums 
of London. If, says Stedman, Cornwallis had had the troops 
Tarleton lost at the Cowpens, "it is not extravagant to suppose 
that the American colonies might have been reunited to the 
empire of Great Britain.' 7 

As for Cornwallis, it must be admitted, that he fought the 
battle skilfully according to his theory. Whatever may have 
been his deficiencies in other respects, he was generally admitted 



to have been an excellent officer in a simple front to front 
action in the field. Lee gives him the highest praise. As the 
British were such bad marksmen, and Cornwallis had none of 
Howe's ability at tactics, manoeuvres and flanking, the hurling 
of a solid mass of bayonets at his enemy was probably the best 
he could do, and he did it well and courageously. 

If we can believe his own account his victory was a still 
more remarkable one than his triumph over Gates at C^mden. 
In his letter to the Ministry and in a letter to Clinton, he said 
that the Americans numbered over 7000 men and that he beat 
them with only 1560 British. If this proportion is true and 
he really defeated an American army more than four times 
larger than his own, he certainly deserves to stand high in 
military annals. 

As to the American numbers, Gordon, who knew Greene, had 
access to his papers and talked with him and his officers about 
the battle, places the American numbers at 4443. Greene's 
grandson, who had access to his ancestor's papers and made a 
careful investigation, gives the number as 4404 and Lee makes 
it 4449. 

Lamb says that a letter found in the pocket of an American 
sergeant killed in the battle gave 7000 as the number of the 
army. But such a statement is by no means conclusive, and 
even if such a letter was found it may have referred to num- 
bers some days before the battle. Greene wrote in two differ- 
ent letters that a few weeks before there had been with him 
a body of about 5000 militia, but that five days before the 
battle their numbers had sunk to only eight or nine hundred. 

As for Cornwallis 's statement that he had won with only 
1560 British in action, and one regiment and a hundred infan- 
try out of action guarding his baggage, it seems very extraor- 
dinary when we consider the number of troops he started 
with from South Carolina. We are inclined to adopt the 
opinion of Clinton, who, when he heard of this wonder, in- 
formed Cornwallis in courteous but plain language, that he 
did not believe it. He reminded his Lordship, that, by his 
Lordship's own returns, he had had some 3000 men, without 



counting cavalry, when he set out to pursue Morgan after the 
Battle of the Cowpens. That he should have lost half of this 
force in his race across North Carolina in which no pitched 
battles were fought, seems hardly possible. Lee estimated the 
whole force of Cornwallis at 2400, of which he believed 2000 
were in the action at Guilford. The American force of 4400 
therefore outnumbered Cornwallis almost two to one. But only 
1490 of the Americans were veteran troops. The rest were 
militia ; and some of them were the worst militia in the United 
States; so that Greene's advantage in numbers was not so 
great as might at first be supposed. 

Soon after the battle Greene's army was much reduced. 
Some eight or nine hundred of his militia departed after their 
fashion and scattered to their homes; and he had lost about 
327 in killed, wounded and missing. But although he modestly 
described himself as "having blundered through without any 
capital misfortune" he had done enough. Cornwallis had lost 
six hundred killed and wounded. Some of his best officers, 
Stuart, O'Hara, Robinson, Talbot, and Grant, were killed; and 
there was an unusually large number of wounded officers. 1 

*B. F. Stevens, " Clinton-Cornwallis Controversy," vol. i, pp. 363, 
364, 367, 396, 442; Johnson, "Life of Greene/ 1 vol. ii, pp. 1-26; Tarleton, 
Narrative, pp. 270-279; Gordon, "American Revolution/' edition 1788, 
vol. iv, p. 54; Lee, Memoirs, vol. i, pp. 339-358; Stedman, "American 
War," vol. ii, p, 346; G. W. Greene, "Life of General Greene," vol. iii, 
pp. 190, 204, 205, 207; Sergeant Lamb's Journal, pp. 355, 356. 



CORNWALLIS had lost in battle nearly a third of Ms army ; 
and such a loss destroyed all his chances of holding North 
Carolina by encouraging a general rising of the loyalists. He 
describes the loyalists coming into his camp, shaking hands 
with him and congratulating him on his victory. But he admits 
that he could not persuade so much as a hundred of them to 
join him or stir a hand to help him. They were polite and 
friendly; but they saw clearly that he was ruined and could 
do nothing to protect them from the patriots. 

The safety of the remains of his army was now a serious 
question. But, first, he went through the form of proclaiming 
his victory, which he described in an enthusiastic letter to the 
Ministry; and he again called on the loyalists to join him. 
Immediately after this bombastic display, and three days after 
the battle, he left the worst of his wounded to the care of the 
patriots and began retiring in a southeasterly direction along 
the Cape Fear River, on the head waters of which the battle 
had been fought. 

He expected provisions and recruits at the loyalist Scotch 
settlement at Cross Creek; but was disappointed in both. 
Greene followed him hoping to force another battle, but the 
militia kept deserting in such numbers that he could do Corn- 
wallis no harm. We gain a glimpse of the destitution in the 
patriot army when we learn that, on reaching one of the aban- 
doned camps of the British, our men ate the beef that had been 
left hanging in the slaughter pens and then greedily devoured 
the garbage that had been thrown out to the vultures. 

In his report to the Ministry, Cornwallis described his 
retreat as merely a leisurely approach to the sea to "procure 



the necessary supplies for future operations. " But in reality 
he was running away from Greene and abandoning North 
Carolina and its loyalists. One would have supposed that he 
would retreat to Camden, in South Carolina, as he had done in 
the autumn when the first trial of his plan had failed. It surely 
was important to protect the garrisons in South Carolina ; for 
he had himself said that it was extremely doubtful whether 
they could hold out against the patriot army. 

At one point on his retreat along the Cape Fear River he was 
within sixty miles of Camden; but instead of turning aside 
towards that town he kept on down the river to Wilmington, 
90 miles away. Before he set out on his pursuit of Morgan 
he had given directions that Wilmington should be occupied by 
a force from Charleston, and the town had recently been 
taken by a British officer, Major Craig. It was the only seaport 
of North Carolina and Cornwallis had intended to use it as 
his base of supplies from England for the subjugation of the 
state. But as his chances of holding North Carolina were 
completely wrecked, and South Carolina was so weak, it seemed 
contrary to common sense not to go at once where assistance 
was most needed ; and he never was able to give a satisfactory 
reason for going to Wilmington. 1 

. " My intention then was, as soon as I should have equipped my own 
corps, and received a part of the expected reinforcement from Ireland, to 
return to the upper country ; in hopes of giving some protection to South 
Carolina, and of preserving the health of the troops until new measures 
could be concerted with the Commander in Chief." (B. F. Stevens, 
" Clinton-Cornwallis Controversy," vol. i, p. 67. ) 

But why not equip his corps and wait for reinforcements 
in South Carolina where his troops might have been of some 

1 Gordon, " American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iv, pp. 47, 57-59 ; 
B. F. Stevens, " Clinton-Cornwallis Controversy," vol. i, pp. 67, 80 note, 
363-370, 396; G. W. Greene, "Life of General Greene/' vol. iii, p. 212; 
Tarleton, Narrative, pp. 281, 283, 284; Clinton's "Observations on Sted- 
man's American War," p. 17; Stedman, "American War," vol. ii, p. 351, 



use in protecting the British interest in that state? Having 
failed to conquer North Carolina how could he in his weak 
state conquer Virginia; and while he lingered at Wilmington 
would not Greene invade South Carolina now left unprotected? 

As soon as it was evident that Cornwallis was retreating 
along the Cape Fear Eiver to enter Wilmington, a discussion 
arose among Greene and his officers as to the British general's 
ultimate intentions. Would he finally go to the protection of 
South Carolina or would he attempt to carry out his grand 
plan of invading Virginia where the British forces under Phil- 
lips and Arnold were already at work ? Meantime, what should 
Greene's little army do? Should it wait conveniently near 
Wilmington prepared to act according to circumstances and 
to the course Cornwallis should take; and how near Wil- 
mington should it remain ? 

At first the general opinion was in favor of remaining near 
Cornwallis. Lee is supposed to have suggested that instead of 
that the main patriot army should instantly march into South 
Carolina and attack Camden, while Lee's light troops should 
join themselves to Marion and cut the British communications 
between Camden and Charleston. The animated debate over 
this suggestion is described by Lee with his usual relish for 
military argument. 2 Some of the officers clung to the idea 
that was deluding Cornwallis, namely, that Virginia was the 
key to the South, that if that state were taken by the British 
the Carolinas and Georgia would submit as a matter of course, 
and therefore Greene should stay near Cornwallis to prevent 
his entering Virginia. 

It was true that Virginia was an important part of the 
South. She was the richest and most populous province, her 
public men were able and conspicuous and the arms, ammu- 

*Lce, Memoirs, vol. ii, p. 31. Lee does not distinctly say that he 
suggested the southward move, but he implies that he suggested it. 
Johnson in his "Life of Greene/' vol. ii, pp. 33, 423, shows rather 
conclusively that it had been in Greene's mind long before. 



nition and reinforcements for the patriots in the Carolinas 
must come from Virginia or pass through her territory from 
farther north. If she were conquered one might suppose the 
patriots in the Carolinas and Georgia saying, Why should we 
hold out any longer, how can we obtain reinforcements, ammu- 
nition and arms with Virginia in the hands of the enemy ! 

But the best way of protecting Virginia was not necessarily 
by going directly to her aid and leaving South Carolina in the 
hands of the British to be used by them as a base for perpetual 
attacks upon Virginia. The surer way was to attack South 
Carolina, now so weakly defended ; for iu that case Cornwallis 
would be compelled to rush to its protection and abandon his 
designs on both Virginia and North Carolina ; or if he tried to 
conquer Virginia he would lose South Carolina and Georgia, 
as well as North Carolina. 

Against this it was urged that Cornwallis would not be so 
bad a general as to go to Virginia. He would more likely 
follow the patriots to South Carolina, and might he not be 
again able to drive them out, and again chase them across 
North Carolina? 

No, replied Lee, he will not be strong enough to do that 
again. If he follows us he can do no more than protect South 
Carolina. We shall have inflicted great damage on the British 
forces there, before he can reach us; and if with his steadily 
diminishing forces he should attempt another chase across 
North Carolina, and another Guilford Court House, it will 
surely be his ruin. 

Greene had no doubt long had in mind the superior advantage 
of a descent into South Carolina. But he listened with his 
usual patience to all the arguments; and then promptly 
decided on the bold dash southward which was by no means 
without its dangers and hardships. He would be removing 
himself far from his source of ammunition and recruits in the 
North, and an enterprising British general might cut his com- 
munications and isolate hii*i beyond hope of retreat. Realizing 
that it was a desperate raid, which would require reliable and 
quick moving troops, lie dismissed the remains of his militia, 



and started on the 6th of April with only 900 veterans in haste 
to reach the British posts before Cornwallis could pass round 
by sea to protect them. He need not have been in such a hurry ; 
for Cornwallis gave him, all the time he wanted. Cornwallis 
could always be relied upon to do what was most disadvanta- 
geous for his own side. 8 

8 Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iv, p. 81; G. W. 
Greene, "Life of General Greene," vol. iii, pp. 213, 215; "Life of Elias 
Boudinot," by J. J. Boudinot, vol. i, p. 238. 



THE failures of Cornwallis to the northward had greatly 
encouraged the scattered and depressed patriots in South 
Carolina, and the state was in a greater confusion than ever. 
Marion and Sumter were again at their work. They hid in 
the swamps when their followers were few, and, when they had 
increased to enough for a raid, they dashed about here and 
there, crippling the British and loyalists by sudden attacks. 
The daily feuds between patriots and loyalists, and the inter- 
change of murders and atrocities in which one side was as bad 
as the other, kept the people in a constant turmoil, which 
would have to be suppressed if England was to boast of having 
brought one American state into that condition of law and 
order which is supposed to be the ideal of a British colony. 

" The animosities between the Whigs and Tories^ of this state renders 
their situation truly deplorable. There is not a day passes but there are 
more or less who fall a sacrifice to this savage disposition. The Whigs 
seem determined to extirpate the Tories and the Tories the Whigs. Some 
thousands have fallen in this way in this quarter, and the evil rages with 
more violence than ever. If a stop cannot be put to these massacres, the 
country will be depopulated in a few months more as neither Whig nor 
Tory can live." (Greene to Colonel Davies, G. W. Greene, "Life of 
General Greene," vol. in, p. 227 note.) 

This deplorable state of affairs Marion and Sumter were 
able to turn to the advantage of the patriots. Their followers 
were largely inspired by a mere love of plunder or vengeance, 
and when that was temporarily gratified they retired to their 
homes and the two leaders waited in swamps till others of the 
same sort joined them. Marion was so much disgusted with the 
sort of men he had to obtain that he wanted to give up his 
command and go north. But it was only by procuring such 
people to take their turns that the patriot contest was kept up ; 

Vol. 1127 417 


and in taking advantage in this way of the demoralized condi- 
tion of South Carolina, Marion and Sumter had a skill which 
amounted to genius. 1 

The failures of Cornwallis had left both the Carolinas 
without any sort of organized government; for the patriot 
government could not control the loyalists and could not pre- 
serve civilized order in its own party. The whole country was 
at the mercy of the two parties, patriot and loyalist, each of 
which attempted to regulate the community by lynch law, 
vigilance committees and assassination. 

"We gain a glimpse of the state of affairs from the narrative 
of a loyalist, David Fanning, and from what we learn of the 
doings of that picturesque character Colonel Cleveland, who 
at the Battle of King's Mountain had commanded the troops 
from the Upper Yadkin Valley. Strong in character, command- 
ing in presence, full of southern relentlessness, capable of 
terrible deeds, and equally capable of southern generosity and 
friendliness, Cleveland undertook to regulate the Yadkin coun- 
try in his own way and be his own vigilance committee, judge 
and hangman. He led expeditions; he was captured by the 
loyalists and rescued; and he had men who went out and 
brought victims to his plantation where he pronounced sentence 
as he pleased. 

They brought a loyalist leader, Zachariah Wells, to his corn- 
field, possibly to avoid an unpleasant scene at the house. Cleve- 
land took the plow reins to hang Wells to a tree, when the boy 
who had been ploughing pleaded for the life of the poor fellow, 
who looked so pitiful and had been wounded. 

" Jimmie, my son," said Cleveland, "he is a bad man; we 
must hang all such dangerous Tories, and get them out of 
their misery." 

With tears running down his cheeks, says the narrative, 
the Colonel adjusted the rope. He could hardly endure the 
sight of the trembling culprit; but he remembered his own. 

*G. W. Greene, "Life of General Greene," vol. iii, pp. 265, 293, 294, 



dangers and escapes from loyalist raiders as well as the dangers 
of all the patriots of the Yadkin ; and Wells was soon dangling 
in the air. 

Having hung a loyalist by standing him on a log with the 
rope fastened to a limb and then rolling away the log, he went 
to the loyalist's companion, and pointed to the still struggling 

"You have your choice. Take your place beside him or 
cut off your own ears and leave the country." 

A case knife was handed the man; he slashed off his own 
ears, and with the blood streaming down his jaws and neck 

David Fanning gives us something of the loyalist point of 
view. He spent the early years of the war in "Western South 
Carolina where he joined loyalist militia organizations and 
fought the rebels, as he called them. Even when not in a loyal- 
ist band and attempting to live at his home on Eeburn Creek, 
he was frequently captured by patriots and carried off to 
Ninety-Six and imprisoned. He was usually heavily ironed, 
and on one occasion stripped naked, ironed and chained to the 
floor. But by the assistance of some confederate, or by the 
careless manner of guarding him in the disorganized state of 
the patriots, he always managed to escape. He became such a 
marked man that he had to live in the woods in great misery, 
not daring to go to his farm, occasionally communicating with 
loyalists or obtaining food from them, and watching his chance 
to join a loyalist uprising. Discovered suddenly one day by 
patriots he received two bullets in his back, but managed to 
keep his seat in the saddle. 

"After proceeding 12 miles I turned my horse into the woods and 
remained there eight days; having no support but herbs, except three 
eggs; my wounds at this time being troublesome and offensive for the 
want of dressing. I got my horse again and moved about twelve miles to 
a friend's house, where on my arrival 'I made a signal, which they knew, 
to acquaint them of my being alive a young girl of fourteen years old 
came to me; but when she came near enough to see me she was frightened 
so at the sight she run off. I pursued after her on horseback, telling .her 
who I was. She said she .knew, it was me, but I was deadv. that .1 was, 



then a spirit and stunk yet. I was a long time before I could get her to 
come to me, I looked so much like a rack of nothing but skin and bones, 
and my wounds had not been dressed and my clothes all bloody. My 
misery and situation was beyond explanation/' (David Fanning, Narra- 
tive, p. 10.) 

After the defeat of Ferguson the patriots had so much the 
upper hand that Fanning went to that extremely loyalist sec- 
tion of North Carolina on Deep River and the tributaries of 
the Cape Fear. There he became commander of a band of 
loyalists, and led a life like Marion and Sumter, hiding in the 
woods when his men were few ; raiding and fighting when they 
were numerous. In fact the conditions of the times in the 
South produced these bands everywhere on both sides, patriot 
and loyalist. We know more of the bands of Marion, Sumter 
and Williams because the leaders were more capable and were 
on the successful side. Fanning on the Deep River, Cleveland 
on the Upper Yadkin, were characteristic types. Patriotism 
was rather in the ascendant on the Yadkin and there Cleve- 
land becomes the prominent character and attempts to regulate 
the district ; while on the Deep Eiver Fanning is the regulator. 
But in their methods the two regulators were practically the 

" On my return to Little River," says Fanning, "I heard of a Capt. 
Golson; who had been distressing the Loyalists; and went in search of 
him, myself; but unfortunately I did not meet him; but fell in, with one 
of his men, who had been very assiduous, in assisting the rebels. I killed 
him. I mounted a man of my own on his horse, and returned back. I 
then took Capt. Currie and the man of my own before mentioned, and 
went with a design of burning Capt. Golson's house; which I did; and 
also two others. In my way, I fell in, with a man, who had been very 
anxious for to have some of my men executed. I sent him word for to 
moderate and he should have nothing to fear, but if he persisted, I would 
certainly kill him. He took no notice of this ; but persisted, for several 
months, and on observing me that day, he attempted to escape; but I 
shot him. ... In the course of this correspondence, endeavouring to 
make peace, I had reason to believe they did not intend to be as good as 
their words; as three of their people followed Capt. Linley, and cut him 
to pieces with their swords. I was immediately informed of it, and kept 
a look out for ,them. Five days after their return, I took two of them 



and hung them, by way of retaliation, both on the limb of the same tree; 
the third made his escape." . . . 

" On our way I catched a commissary from Salisbury who had some 
of my men prisoners and almost perished them, and wanted to hang some 
of them. I carried him immediately to a certain tree, where they had 
hung one of my men by the name of Jackson, and delivered him up to 
some of my men, who he had treated ill when prisoners; and they imme- 
diately hung him. . . . 

" I, then set out for Chatham, where I learned that a wedding was to 
be that day. On my way I took one prisoner, before I came to the house. 
There, being but five of us, we immediately surrounded the house in full 
charge. I ordered them, immediately out of the House; three of my men 
went into the house and drove them all out one by one; I caused them all 
to stand in a row to examine them, to see if I knew any of them that was 
bad men. 1 found one, by the name of William Doudy, concealed up stairs. 
One of my men fired at him; as he was running from one house to the 
other; he received the ball in his shoulder. I then having my pistols in 
my hand, discharged them both at his breast, with which he fell, and 
that night expired." (Fanning, Narrative, pp. 41, 46, 52, 56.) 

After Cornwallis went up into Virginia, Fanning acted in 
conjunction with Major Craig who commanded at Wilmington. 
He brought in prisoners to Craig, received directions from 
him, and on one occasion helped to take the town of Hillsboro 
with the patriot governor, his council and several hundred 
prisoners. He boasted that he and his officers had the whole 
Deep River country "under protection of the British govern- 
ment until long after the surrender of Lord Cornwallis and the 
evacuation of Wilmington; and after all the British troops 
were called to their different ports on the seashore." He 
accomplished far more than Cornwallis in subduing North 
Carolina. After the war he followed other loyalists to New 
Brunswick and Nova Scotia where he lived until his death in 

In the case of Cleveland's victims, and of scores of others, 
hung here and there all over the Carolinas, as they happened 
to be caught in the roads or fields, by patriot parties of two or 
more wandering about for this purpose, we usually read that 
the victims were Tory horse thieves, robbers and plunderers. 
Horse stealing, according to these patriot accounts, was con- 



fined exclusively to the loyalist party, and gave a certain con- 
ventional legal ground to justify in print the summary execu- 
tions. In Allaire *s Diary, one of the few loyalist writings from 
which we can obtain a glimpse of the other side, we find that 
the patriot wandering bands were also regarded as horse thieves 
and plunderers, who devastated loyalist plantations and ill- 
treated loyalist women. 

Allaire speaks of a patriot sermon as "stuffed as full of 
republicanism as their camp is of horse thieves ;" and Colonel 
Shelby's brother was accused, even by a patriot, of being a 
mere plunderer. 2 There was a noted loyalist leader called by 
the patriots "Bloody" Bill Cunningham, and no doubt Cleve- 
land would be called Bloody Ben Cleveland, if we had any 
loyalist descriptions of him. 

In the patriot descriptions of the hangings of patriots by 
loyalists the victim, never of course a horse thief, but usually 
a captain or colonel, is apt to escape at the last moment by some 
extraordinary luck, which seems like a special providence, or 
else he is killed in a particularly devilish manner. We unfor- 
tunately have only a patriot description of Cunningham's work 
to enable us to compare it with Cleveland's. 

"When in violation of the pledges made them, Colonel Hayes and 
Captain Williams were about to be hung to the pole of a fodder stack, 
little Joseph Williams cries out in his heart's agony, *0h! brother 
Daniel, what shall I tell mother? ' 

" 'You shall tell her nothing, you dd rebel suckling/ said Cunning- 
ham as he hewed him down. 

" Hanging Hayes and the elder Williams, the pole broke, when the 
bloody monster cut and slashed with his sword, hacking them to pieces. 
Eleven others perished in the same manner, at the hands of Cunningham 
and his men." (Draper, "King's Mountain," &c., p. 4G8.) 

Everything the loyalists did, if we can believe patriot 
descriptions, was of the most revolting cruelty; but similar 
deeds on the patriot side were merely terrible acts of justice 
enlightened and enlivened by humor, magnanimity and kindly 

* Draper, id., p. 589. 



Some of the loyalists hung Cleveland's overseer by standing 
him on a log on a hillside with a grape vine from his neck to 
a limb. Some one then ran down hill butting him off the log. 
Cleveland's men caught the leader of this band and Cleveland 
took him out to the same log and tree. 

" I hope you will not hang me, Colonel, I am a useful man 
in the neighborhood, a good mechanic. I have worked for you 
in peaceful days. Besides I have invented perpetual motion. 
I have heard you cursing Fanning and other loyalist leaders 
for putting prisoners to death. "Where are your principles? 
Where is your conscience?" 

1 ' Where is my conscience ? ' ' roared Cleveland. ' c Where are 
my horses and cattle you have stolen, my barns and fences you 
have destroyed? Where is my overseer? 'Fore God I will do 
this deed and justify myself before high heaven and my coun- 
try ! Eun up the hill, Bill, and butt him off the log. I'll show 
him perpetual motion." 

One day he was absent when a victim was brought in, and 
his sons asked their mother, who sat quietly smoking her pipe, 
what they ought to do. They were afraid that if they kept 
the prisoner over night he might escape. 

"What would your father do with him?" 

"Hang him." 

"Then you must hang him." 

And the boys soon had him dangling from the high post 
of the gate. 

"Waste no time about it," said Cleveland one day to his 
men; "swing him off quick." 

"You needn't be in such a d d hurry about it," coolly 
retorted the loyalist. 

"Boys," said Cleveland, "let him go." 3 

'Draper, ., pp. 445-450, 458, 468, 481, 487, 498, 499, 502, 503, See 
also Johnson, " Life of Greene," vol. 5i, pp. 249, 250. 



HAVING decided to invade South Carolina while Cornwallis 
delayed at Wilmington, Greene's first point of attack was 
Camden, the farthest post north, and the fall of which would 
probably render the other interior posts of South Carolina 
untenable. He had sent word to Marion and Sumter to be ready 
to assist, and he sent Lee ahead with a considerable force to act 
as circumstances should suggest. 

In his march Lee met with an adventure which shows the 
wildness of the country at that time. Between two and three 
o'clock in the morning one of his watchful pickets reported a 
noise like men moving through a swamp. Presently it was 
heard in another quarter. The troops were called to arms and 
spent the rest of the night facing in different directions, form- 
ing and reforming, as sentinels and patrols reported the noise 
now here now there, and the noise resembled the progress of 
horsemen concealing with the utmost care their advance. A 
very intelligent enemy was evidently reconnoitring prepara- 
tory to an assault ; and Lee exhausted his eloquence in encourag- 
ing his men to stand firm and, when the attack came, make 
the fight of their lives. At daylight they moved forward and 
quickly found the trail of their enemy, an enormous pack of 
wolves, which had been travelling their usual route, when, find- 
ing it obstructed, they circled round the camp, startling every 
sentinel and patrol as they pattered through the forest. 

On the 15th of April Lee joined Marion and they invested 
Fort Watson, which protected a fertile region on the Santee 
Eiver from which the British drew provisions and lay about 
midway between Camden and Charleston. The fort was built 
on an Indian mound thirty or forty feet high, strongly stock- 
aded with three rows of abatis. It might have defied attack 
if Major Mahew, one of Marion's officers, had not thought of 



laying logs one on another during the night until a tower was 
erected from which riflemen could shoot into the fort. As the 
fort had no cannon the riflemen easily protected themselves with, 
a breastwork of logs on top of the tower; and the British and 
loyalist garrison of about one hundred and twenty men were 
very much surprised in the morning to find themselves 
under a searching fire from which there was no escape but 
surrender. 1 

Greene had been in hopes of coming upon Oamden by sur- 
prise, as Gates had attempted the year before ; but his move- 
ments were too slow ; and all he could do was to begin an inad- 
equate sort of siege. The British commander, Lord Eawdon, 
was greatly surprised to learn that the patriots were coming 
to attack him. He had understood that Greene had been ruined 
by Cornwallis and had fled to Virginia. 

The village of Camden, now famous for its antiquities, beau- 
tiful gardens and comfortable inns for winter tourists, had 
been originally called Pine Tree and had been established 
some twenty years before as a place of supply for the settlers 
who cultivated the land along that part of the Wateree Eiver. 
In the early stages of the Eevolution, its people had followed 
the example of several other places in America and named 
their town after Lord Camden, who had argued so strenuously 
in the House of Lords against the right of Parliament to levy 
taxes in a British colony. 

Pine Tree Creek flowed into the Wateree Eiver in such a 
way that the two streams enclosed Camden within water 
boundaries f ermed like the letter U. The village was placed 
near the bottom of the U, and the open space was almost closed 
by two small swampy brooks flowing respectively into the creek 
and the river. Eedoubts and a stockade protected the village 
which, being surrounded on all sides but one by streams and 
swamps, was a formidable stronghold. 

a Tarleton, Narrative, p. 471; Lee, Memoirs, vol. ii, pp. 50-53; Gordon, 
" American War/' vol. iv, p. 81 ; G. W. Greene, " Life of General Greene," 
vol. iii, pp. 235-238. 



Greene, having no cannon and not a large force, proceeded 
to invest the place by closing the open part of the U and direct- 
ing Sumter and Marion to cut off supplies on the east and west. 
To make his investiture more complete, he entered within the 
U and took a position at Logtown, only six hundred yards north 
of the fortifications of Oamden. But finding those defences 
very strong he remained only a day at Logtown and fell back 
to a position where the two little brooks almost closed the 
open part of the U. There on a ridge called Hobkirk Hill, 
near the present site of hotels and handsome modern residences, 
he placed his army in a good position, hoping to entice Lord 
Eawdon to make a sortie. 

Accounts differ as to the way the battle was begun. Accord- 
ing to one version a patriot sergeant deserted to the British 
and told Lord Rawdon that Greene's army was weak, short of 
provisions, without artillery, and that Sumter who was expected 
with 1000 reinforcements, .had not arrived. According to the 
British version Lord Eawdon learned that Greene had made the 
mistake of sending his artillery a day's march in the rear and 
changing his mind had sent the militia to bring the guns back. 
Rawdon tried to seize this moment of Greene's weakness and 
sallied out with nearly his whole force, arming his musicians 
and drummers and leaving only the sick and the loyalist militia 
in Camden. 

It was on the morning of the 25th of April, and Rawdon 's 
men, by keeping to their right along the swamps of Pine Tree 
Creek, believed that they had surprised the patriots, who had 
just obtained fresh provisions and were cooking and washing 
their clothes. But Greene seems to have been ready enough 
to receive them. His men rushed to arms from their cooking 
and washing ; some barefoot ; others without their coats ; and 
the baggage was hurried off to the rear. Greene saw that the 
British were advancing with the usual narrow front, and 
he decided to envelop them and attack their flanks and 
rear. It was apparently a good plan, and would probably 
have succeeded if the regiments that attacked the flanks 
had not been raw militia who were dismayed and retreated 



before they reached the enemy. Eawdon instantly extended 
his line to avoid the flanking movement; and soon after 
had the satisfaction of seeing the patriots under Gunby and 
Hawes, who were attacking his front, fall. back. They had 
become confused and Gunby withdrew them to form anew. 
But believing that they had been ordered to retreat and finding 
the British pursuing, they gave way and no efforts of their 
officers could rally them. Greene, bitterly disappointed, could 
do nothing but make the retreat as orderly as possible and try 
to rescue his artillery. He was assisted at the last moment by 
Colonel Washington's cavalry, which had been sent to attack 
the enemy's rear, but unable to accomplish anything returned 
just in time to check the British by a charge. 

Greene had had about 1200 men in action against the British 
900, and should have won a signal victory, but for the failure of 
the militia on the flanks and the mistake of Colonel Gunby. 
If Sumter had come up with his reinforcements it would have 
added a thousand men to the patriot ranks and might have 
altered the result. But Sumter, accustomed to the freedom of 
a partisan commander, was reluctant to subordinate himself 
to Greene; and Greene was obliged to be patient and humor 
him. Each side had lost over 250 men in the battle, and the 
victory was decidedly in favor of Rawdon, for Greene was 
obliged to fall back for five or six miles. 2 

Not only was his defeat at Hobkirk Hill a great surprise 
and shock, but Greene felt more than ever the difficulty of 
drawing his supplies from the northward over the wilderness 
roads. He had no armorer or any means of making the slight- 
est repairs in his guns and artillery. Everything must come 
from Virginia. The large reinforcements he had expected from 
Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, had not arrived, and the 
time of service of many of his troops was expiring. 

* Tarleton, Narrative, pp. 460-470 ; Johnson, " Life of Greene," vol. ii, 
pp. 72-95; G. W. Greene, "Life of General Greene," vol. iii, pp. 239-260; 
Gordon, " American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iv, p. 81 ; Lee, Memoirs, 
vol. ii, pp. 54-67; Kirkland and Kennedy, "Historic Camden," pp. 



" North Carolina," lie said, " lias got next to no men in the field, and 
few militia, and those the worst in the world, for they have neither pride 
nor principle to bind them to any party or to the discharge of their duty. 
Generals Marion and Sumter have a few people who adhere to them, 
perhaps more from a desire and the opportunity of plundering, than from 
any inclination to support the independence of the United States." (G, 
W. Greene, "Life of General Greene," vol. iii, p. 265.) 

In this situation, with Sumter refusing to obey his orders 
and carrying off the only good North Carolina troops on free- 
booting raids, where they could indulge themselves in the joy of 
plunder, Greene feared he would have to retreat northward or 
become a mere roving partisan. In his moments of gloomy fore- 
boding, he thought that he had made a mistake in his southern 
movement, and that the theory of Cornwallis about Virginia 
might be right. He saw himself driven back again across North 
Carolina. "Lord Cornwallis," he said, "will establish a chain 
of posts along the James River in Virginia, and the southern 
states thus cut off will die like the tail of a snake." 3 

So depressed was he that he seemed determined to change 
his whole system and sent orders withdrawing Lee from the 
attempt to intercept the British command under Watson. But 
within a short time he reversed this order, and returned again 
to his old confidence, believed that his original plan was after 
all the best, and if time only were allowed him all the South 
Carolina posts would fall. 

Meantime, Watson had eluded Lee and Marion, and on the 
7th of May got safely into Camden. The next day Bawdon, 
strengthened by this reinforcement, made a sally out of the 
town, and by a night march tried to get into the rear of Greene's 
army. But the unceasing vigilance to which the patriots had 
been trained, gave ample warning and they fell back five miles 
to Sandy Creek. Here Greene left his horse pickets and light 
infantry to act as a check on the enemy and retired four miles 
further. When Eawdon came upon the pickets, he was not only 
delayed, but completely deceived. He believed that he was 

*G. W. Greene, "Life of General Greene," vol. iii, pp. 266, 275; Lee, 
Memoirs, vol. ii, pp. 67, 68; Johnson, "Life of Greene," vol. ii, p. 117. 



confronted by the main patriot army and returned to 

Under Greene's system of extraordinary watchfulness, quick 
movements, excellent cavalry, and partisan raiding under past 
masters of the art like Marion and Sumter, it was soon evident 
that the English, with their slower methods, would not be able 
to maintain their widely separated garrisons. Greene was 
always obliged to retreat when they attacked him, and had lost 
the only pitched battle he had fought; and yet at the same 
time, his partisan raiding was cutting their communications 
and wearing them out. This was quickly illustrated when, two 
days after his attempt to surprise the patriots, Rawdon, seeing 
that his communications with Charleston were being cut to 
pieces, abandoned Camden, burning his baggage and part of 
the town, retiring slowly towards Charleston, and stopping at 
Monks Corner within thirty miles of that place. 

Thus Camden had fallen, although Greene's attack on it 
had failed. Nothing showed more clearly the essential weakness 
of the British garrisons, the folly of Cornwallis in abandoning 
them and the wisdom of Greene's movement against them. The 
sudden fall of Camden weakened every other British post. 
Within three days Sumter took Orangeburg and its large sup- 
plies of provisions without firing a shot, and Marion took Fort 
Motte, which he had been besieging for nearly a week. 

Fort Motte was the summer mansion house of a prosperous 
patriot planter. It was one of those richly furnished southern 
homes, of which we have read so much, equipped for lavish hos- 
pitality and fitted with the evidences of a refinement and cul- 
ture, which are at times so surprising to persons of northern 
prejudices. The British had converted it into a fort by a ditch 
and stockade, while Mrs. Motte, the widow of its owner, lived 
near by in an old farm house to which she had removed most 
of her treasures of art and good living, and where she main- 
tained that defiant but gracious dignity so natural to women 
of her class in South Carolina. 

It is another of the numerous instances which show how 
carefully in some instances the British regular officers refrained 



from interference with . patriot women and families. The 
scene of this very agreeable lady, living in her free and 
courageous splendor, with all her property and fine wines, 
within a few hundred yards of her husband's enemies, appealed 
strongly to Harry Lee; and his description of it is one of 
the best in his memoirs. He had no sooner arrived to take 
part in the siege, than she insisted on him and his officers living 
at her house, where she spread the table "with taste and 
fashion and all the luxuries of her opulent country, offered 
without reserve the best wines of Europe, antiquated relics of 
happier days." She presided over their headquarters and 
attended to the sick and wounded with a charming assumption 
that that was her position and her right. 

But an unpleasant day came for Lee. McPherson who com- 
manded the fort was very obstinate in his defence. He was 
threatened with a general massacre if he held out after resist- 
ance had become hopeless ; but all to no effect. Lord Bawdon 
was rapidly approaching to raise the siege ; and there seemed 
to be nothing that could be done except to set fire to the great 
mansion in the stockade with burning arrows. Lee with a 
heavy heart went to Mrs. Motte to explain to her the necessity 
of the decision. 

" With the smile of complacency this exemplary lady listened to the 
embarrassed officer, and gave instant relief to his agitated feelings, by 
declaring, that she was gratified with the opportunity of contributing to 
the good of her country, and that she should view the approaching scene 
with delight." (Lee, Memoirs, vol. ii, p. 77.) 

. -Shortly afterwards she handed him from among her col- 
lections a bow and arrows brought from India, which she said 
might be better adapted to his purpose than those which he 
had prepared. Her beautiful mansion was soon in flames, and 
the gallant McPherson surrendered. 

Lee reminded him that for his obstinate resistance he and 
his men could be now shot down without mercy, and McPherson 
gracefully replied that he was in the. hands of his captors. 
Whereupon, victor, and vanquished went over to Mrs. Motte 's 



and partook of a " sumptuous dinner," their host presiding 
with such "unaffected politeness" and " conversing with such 
ease, vivacity and good sense that she obliterated all recollec- 
tion of injury and soothed all the ire of the conflict." 

Within a few days the British abandoned Neilson's Ferry, 
and surrendered to Lee Fort Granby with over three hundred 
loyalist militia. By the 24th of May Greene could boast that 
he had taken nearly 800 prisoners and had compelled the evac- 
uation or surrender of all the interior British posts except 
Ninety-Six and Augusta. 4 

4 Lee, Memoirs, vol. ii, pp. 68-87; Tarleton, Narrative, pp. 473-479. 



GREENE could hardly hope to take the seaports Charleston 
and Savannah, for they could evidently be held by the British 
so long as their navy controlled the sea. But he believed he 
had good chances against Augusta and Ninety-Six. Augusta 
was garrisoned largely by loyalists under Colonel Brown ; and 
the task of reducing this place was given to Lee, who spent the 
last two weeks of May in a regular siege by parallel trenches. 
When the place finally surrendered, the patriot hatred for loyal- 
ists nearly brought on a general massacre. Colonel Grierson 
was murdered, and the life of the commander, Colonel Brown, 
was saved only by a strong guard of continental troops. 1 

Ninety-Six, after Camden the most important British post 
in the interior, had been a colonial fort for watching and con- 
trolling the Indian tribes to the westward, especially the Chero- 
kees, and was called Ninety-Six because it was ninety-six miles 
from the principal Cherokee village. It was situated in a fertile 
loyalist region, in the most populous and powerful part of the 
state, was comparatively healthy in summer, and had been 
selected by the British for these reasons as an important strong- 
hold. But the fall of Camden and other places had rendered 
Ninety-Six a useless position, and orders had been sent to its 
commander, Colonel Cruger, a New York loyalist, to retire to 
Augusta. 2 

He never received the order and for some time had had the 
loyalist planters of the surrounding country engaged with their 
slaves in strengthening his defences. He had five hundred and 

*Lee, Memoirs, vol. ii, pp. 88-118, 

fl B. F. Stevens, " Clinton-Cornwallis Correspondence," vol. i, p. 242; 
Lee, Memoirs, vol. ii, pp. 96, 97. 



fifty troops, most of them loyalists, and was prepared for a 
vigorous resistance when Greene on the 22d of May with a 
thousand men appeared before his works. 

The defences consisted of a stockade fort and a strong star- 
shaped redoubt with the village between them. Not having 
force enough to assail both defences, Greene began on the 
redoubt, and Kosciuszko, a Polish engineer officer, started a 
trench which would gradually reach the works. But the next 
morning the garrison sallied out, drove off his workmen, and 
captured their tools. Another trench was begun and by work- 
ing day and night, with all the rest of the patriot army resist- 
ing the continual sallies of the garrison, the trenches gradually 
approached the redoubt. Several towers of logs, like the one 
invented by Mahew at the siege of Fort Watson, were erected 
to enable the patriot riflemen to shoot into the fort, and 
this ingenious arrangement kept the garrison closely under 

On the 8th of June Lee arrived from the taking of Augusta, 
and his force was immediately put to work digging trenches 
to approach the stockade on the other side of the town. Close 
to the stockade ran a stream from which the garrison drew 
water, and within four days Lee had approached so close that 
the garrison could draw water from this stream only at night. 
The whole siege was prospering most favorably. A battery 
had been raised high enough to command the redoubt, whose 
garrison had been obliged to defend themselves by raising their 
redoubt higher with sand bags. But suddenly the garrison 
received cheering news by a clever and daring device. 

A countryman rode along the American lines on the south 
side, talking with the troops, when suddenly he put spurs to his 
horse and, escaping a shower of bullets, dashed towards the 
town, holding high in his hand a letter which announced that 
large reinforcements had arrived at Charleston from England 
and that Lord Rawdon was marching with over 2000 men to 
raise the siege. 

Greene had known of this new movement, and had ordered 
Sumter to get in front of Eawdon, delay him in every possible 

Vol. 1128 433 


way, and at the same time strip the country of all the cattle and 
provisions which might fall into his hands. But Surnter, 
hating to obey any order, had an opinion of his own about 
Rawdon, and supposing that he would attack Fort Granby went 
to protect that place. Thus Rawdon had an opportunity to 
pass Sumter, and leave him far behind; and using this advan- 
tage to the utmost, he pressed on by forced marches to Ninety- 

Greene now ordered a desperate assault on both stockade 
and redoubt in the hope of taking them before Rawdon could 
arrive. He was in doubt about the advisability of an assault ; 
but his men with one voice entreated to be led against the fort, 
and declared that they would wipe out the memory of their 
defeat at Hobkirk Hill. With long hooks on poles, they rushed 
at the redoubt to drag the sand bags from the top of it ; and 
Lee, after heavy loss among his best men, entered the stockade. 
But the attack on the redoubt utterly failed ; and rather than 
sacrifice any more men, Greene withdrew his whole force from 
the assault, abandoned the stockade during the night, and the 
next morning, the 19th of June, retired from before Ninety- 
Six after an unsuccessful siege of 28 days. 8 

The loyalists who served in the British army seldom distin- 
guished themselves as soldiers. But exceptions must be made 
in the case of Cruger, who defended Ninety-Six, and in the case 
of Brown, who defended Augusta. Both of them won the 
admiration of our army by the vigor and intelligence, as well 
as the gallantry of their defence. 

But Greene was again sorely disappointed, and although 
he appeared cheerful to his men and praised their devotion and 
courage in the assault, he was again beginning to lose confidence 
in his plans. Counting his raiders, he had something of a force, 

8 Lee, Memoirs, vol. ii, pp. 96-99, 119-131; G. W. Greene, "Life of 
General Greene," vol. iii, pp. 301-319; Gordon, te American Revolution," 
edition 1788, vol. iv, pp. 92-96; Tarleton, Narrative, pp. 479-502; John- 
Bon, " Life of Greene," vol. ii, p. 139. 



but he seemed to be unable to bring them together for united 
action. Lee was the only one of them he could control. 

"It was my wish," he wrote to Marion, "to have fought Lord 
Rawdon before he got to Ninety-Six and could I have collected your force 
and that of General Sumter and Pickens, I would have done it and am 
persuaded we should have defeated him 5 but being left alone I was 
obliged to retire. I am surprised the people should be so averse to joining 
in some general plan of operations. It will be impossible to carry on 
the war to advantage or even to attempt to hold the country, unless your 
force can be directed to a point; and as to flying parties here and there, 
they are of no consequence in the great events of war." (G. W. Greene, 
" Life of General Greene," vol. iii, p. 320.-) 

He believed that he had suffered a bad defeat; his dash 
into South Carolina seemed to be useless; and all that the 
croakers had foretold seemed to be happening. Some of his 
officers were so disheartened that they tried to persuade him 
to fall back into Virginia. It was now known that Cornwallis 
instead of following him had gone up into Virginia. For the 
time being, this seemed to be a clever piece of generalship, for 
it had prevented the arrival of patriot assistance from Virginia, 
which Greene had expected and relied upon up to the last 

" We want reinforcements in this quarter/' he wrote Lafayette, who 
was now in command of the patriot troops in Virginia, *' but I .am afraid 
to call upon you, as I fear you are no less embarrassed and oppressed 
than we are. What a herculean task we have! To contend with a for- 
midable enemy with a handful of men. In your operations you have one 
advantage which we have not, that is, you are free from Tories. Here 
they are as thick as the trees; and we can neither get provisions or 
forage without large guards to protect them. They even steal our horses 
within the limits of the camp. . . . They are increasing their cavalry by 
every means in their power, and have a greater number than we have, 
though not of equal goodness. We are trying to increase ours. Enlarge 
your cavalry or you are inevitably Tuined." (G. W. Greene, "Life of 
General Greene," vol. iii, p. 320.) 

Greene, it appears, had hoped that the speedy capture of 
Ninety-Six, the last of the interior strongholds, would have 
left him free to move a large part of his force, especially the 



cavalry, to Virginia. He wanted to cooperate with Lafayette 
in attacking Lord Cornwallis in that state and thus double 
check what seemed to be the theory of his Lordship and the Min- 
istry. For this purpose, as soon as he heard that Cornwallis 
was moving from Wilmington into Virginia, he had written to 
have most of the militia of that state retained within it, and 
only a small portion of them sent to South Carolina. But even 
this small portion was countermanded by the Virginia gov- 
ernor ; and Greene now felt that all his plans might be ruined. 

He had heard that a powerful French fleet was coming to 
America ; and he instantly saw, what indeed was quite obvious, 
that this fleet could enter Chesapeake Bay, cut off Cornwallis 
from reinforcements from New York, and, with the assistance 
of a land force, destroy his army. 4 

For the present, however, Greene was obliged to abandon 
South Carolina, or seem to abandon it, and he retreated toward 
Charlotte in North Carolina, encouraging his troops to clean 
their arms and wash their clothes, keeping them together by 
frequent roll calls, and trying in vain to collect his scattered 
raiders, who now had plans of their own. As Greene seemed 
to have been defeated, the class of men sometimes called militia, 
who rode with Marion and Sumter, were inclined to seek 
their homes or join the British. 

Rawdon's victory had had a terrifying effect on the country, 
and Greene described the patriot families flying in all direc- 
tions. Rawdon, however, pursued Greene only about forty or 
fifty miles, enough as he supposed to win the eclat of having 
driven the patriot army from the state. He dared not venture 
far from his base in the hot weather; and as he returned to 
Ninety-Six, many of his troops in their heavy English uni- 
forms dropped dead from the increasing heat. 

Greene and his officers need not have been so much de- 
pressed. Their plan was essentially sound, and the "flying par- 
ties here and there" were more effective than they supposed. 
The British accomplished nothing by driving Greene out of 

4 G. W. Greene, "Life of General Greene," vol. iii, pp. 322, 323. 



the state; for Kawdon had no sooner returned to Ninety-Six 
than he saw that he must abandon it. 

It was useless, and indeed impossible, for him to hold it when 
Camden and the other interior posts were lost. The reinforce- 
ments he had recently received from England he seems to have 
deemed insufficient to occupy those posts. He was in ill health, 
tired of the country, disgusted no doubt at being left in a 
position where he could win no distinction, and was anxious 
to return to England. 

The fatal errors of Cornwallis had needed only time to 
produce their natural result. The British control in South 
Carolina was falling to pieces. Greene had broken it by merely 
retreating when attacked and fighting losing battles. 

The abandonment of Ninety-Six was a serious blow to the 
loyalists, who were very numerous in the fertile region round 
it. They had relied on the great British nation to protect them, 
give them orderly government, and the "blessings of the free 
English constitution;" and now that great power had failed 
them, and they were to be abandoned to the merciless vengeance 
of the patriots, whom they had raided, killed and robbed, and 
who were ready to kill and rob in return. They were in dire- 
ful straits, and, whatever we may think of their opinions, their 
misfortunes deserve our sympathy. 

Lord Rawdon fully appreciating the situation offered to 
leave some troops to help them make a stand and defend them- 
selves ; or, if they preferred, they could bring their families and 
all the effects they could carry and accompany him to safety 
within the British lines at Charleston. It would only be 
temporary exile, he said. They could return when British 
sovereignty was restored. Many of them accepted this offer 
and made up a sad and motley train of exiles, like the patriots 
who followed G-reene when he retreated across North Carolina. 

No doubt they looked forward to returning and had dreams 
of being enriched out of confiscated rebel estates. The recent 
reinforcements that arrived from England had come out, it is 
said, supposing that the fighting was over, that South Carolina 
was conquered, and that nothing remained for them to do but 



to settle on the forfeited lands. But they were not to become 
Americans, and very few of the loyalists who escaped with 
Rawdon ventured to come back. They scattered like the 
northern loyalists among the West India Islands and other 
British possessions, or perished of disease and misery in a 
wretched suburb of Charleston, called Eawdontown, into which 
they were crowded. 5 

8 Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. ir, p. 93; Tarle- 
ton* Narrative, p. 502. 

Lord Rawdon had been through the whole war, beginning with 
Bunker Hill. He afterwards had a distinguished career in Parliament 
and as Commander-in-chief and governor-general in India. 



AFTER abandoning their pursuit of Greene, the British 
under Eawdon stopped at Orangeburg, about seventy-five miles 
northwest of Charleston. Greene, of course, promptly returned 
to South Carolina, which he declared he would save for patriot- 
ism or die in the attempt. But on approaching Orangeburg 
on the 12th of July, he found the place too strong and the sum- 
mer too far advanced for any aggressive operations. He ac- 
cordingly retired a little farther north to a sandy ridge or 
tableland, called the High Hills of Santee, some two hundred 
feet above the surrounding country, and comparatively healthy 
in summer time. 

Lee, Marion and Sumter were, however, kept moving in 
spite of the heat, and sent to attack the British nearer Charles- 
ton, at Monks Corner and at Dorchester, where they were occu- 
pying some churches as forts. The taking of these posts was 
expected to compel the enemy to evacuate Orangeburg. It had 
not that effect, but was in other respects successful. Smnter 
might have taken the whole garrison of six hundred men at 
Monks Corner if he had not mistaken a covering party for the 
advance of a general attack, and the delay allowed the garrison 
to escape. The posts were evacuated, however, and the retreat- 
ing British pursued. One hundred and fifty were taken prison- 
ers, two hundred horses captured and great quantities of stores 
and baggage destroyed with very slight loss to the Americans. 
The British loss was heavy ; for many of them were "raw Irish- 
men who knew little or nothing of firing." 1 

In this expedition we meet for the first time with the name of 

J G. W. Greene, "Life of General Greene/' vol. iii, p. 333; Lee, 
Memoirs, vol. ii, pp. 142-158, 



Wade Hampton, who, like Lee, left a descendant to become cele- 
brated in the Civil "War of 1861. The Hampton of the Revo- 
lution was a young South Carolina officer, commanding Sum- 
ter's cavalry, who on this occasion attacked and dispersed a 
party of mounted refugees. 

The English occupation of South Carolina was now still 
more closely confined to the sea-coast. The hot, enervating 
weather was on in full force, and both sides rested. Greene 
kept steadily disciplining his men on the sand hills of Santee, 
with drilling in the cool of the mornings and evenings and 
four roll-calls a day. 

With both armies removed ,f rom the interior of the state 
the disorder, murders and robberies became worse than ever. 

" Almost every person," wrote Wade Hampton, " that remained in this 
settlement after the army marched, seems to have combined in com- 
mitting robberies, the most base and inhuman that ever disgraced man- 
kind." (G. W. Greene, "Life of General Greene," vol. iii, p. 342.) 

"Turn what way you will," wrote Greene, "you have nothing but 
the mournful widow and the plaints of the fatherless child; and behold 
nothing but houses desolated, and plantations laid waste. Ruin is in 
every form and misery in every shape." (G. W. Greene, id., p. 351.) 

Greene tried by every means in his power to restrain the 
resentment and savagery of his own irregular patriot bands. 
But he had no way of compelling them to obey him. He had 
to keep on good terms with them and he could only gently 
argue with them that "the idea of exterminating the tories 
is no less barbarous than impolitic. " 2 In the hope of remedy- 
ing such a state of anarchy the patriots restored their former 
civil government. Rutledge, the patriot governor, returned 
from North Carolina, where he had been living in exile, and 
called upon the civil magistrates and tjie militia officers to 
enforce law and order. 

Greene was disciplining his force with much severity on 
the sand hills, hanging and whipping for disaffection or 

2 Gordon, "American Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iv, pp. 99, 100. 



desertion, and trying to make regular soldiers out of wild 
militia. Sumter's independence was again giving trouble, and 
he would have disbanded his separate command if Greene had 
not peremptorily stopped the process. In August the British 
abandoned Georgetown, destroying all the valuable supplies it 
contained and burning the town. They now held only Orange- 
burg, Charleston, Wilmington and Savannah. 

At the end of August Greene had but twenty-six hundred 
men, all told, and only sixteen hundred of these were conti- 
nentals. Through the prodigious blunders of Lord Cornwallis, 
this little force was conquering South Carolina. There was a 
month more of hot, unhealthy weather, but Greene resolved 
to move upon the enemy's position at Orangeburg. The dis- 
tance in a straight line was not much more than thirty miles, 
but within that thirty miles flowed the Santee River, which 
swollen by rains had overflowed its usual channel and was a vast 
yellow flood sweeping through forests and canebrakes as it bore 
its burden of floating logs and weeds to the sea. To cross this 
obstruction he had to go some twenty miles northward to Cam- 
den and come down the side on which were the British. As 
he approached them he learned that they were retiring to make 
a stand at a strong position, called Eutaw Springs, farther down 
the Santee. 

The place consisted of a planter's brick house in a clearing, 
and by the side of this house General Stuart had his camp and 
tents with 2300 men. In preparing to meet Greene he formed 
his troops in a single line in the woods outside of the clearing 
with some reserves in their rear. Greene, who this time was 
the attacking party, arranged that when his men reached the 
enemy they should assume the Morgan formation, with the 
militia in one body in front and the reliable continentals and 
veterans in another body some distance behind them. 

As the Americans approached early in the morning of the 
8th of September, the advance reconnoitring parties of both 
sides unexpectedly met and the British charged, supposing the 
enemy to be militia. But instead of militia it was Light Horse 
Lee's legion which returned the charge and scattered the Brit- 



ish. Soon afterwards, the two armies were close together in an 
open front attack and firing heavily. 

Stuart, recognizing the Morgan plan of militia in front, 
told his men to stand firm and drive them back. But the militia 
this time had Marion and Pickens with them, and the two 
lines, militia and British, fired steadily into each other at close 
range without wavering. There was no throwing away of 
loaded guns as at Gkdlford Court House, and when the centre 
of the militia was finally forced back each man of them had 
fired seventeen rounds. 

The British had now made their usual mistake of using 
nearly their whole force in the beginning with the risk of having 
it all fatigued or demoralized. But Greene had been using 
only his worst troops and he now reinforced the militia centre 
until it again held its own. Stuart brought up his last reserves 
and for the second time forced back the militia centre and 
pressed forward as if assured of victory. Greene seized this 
moment to carry out the Morgan method of charging with his 
whole reserved force, and Lee attacked the British left flank. 
The Americans seem to have been well provided with bayonets, 
and, owing probably to the severe discipline and drill which 
Greene had so long enforced, they were used as effectively as 
the world-renowned bayonet of the Briton. Stuart's army was 
soon flying through the woods to seek refuge in its camp and 
the brick house in the clearing. 

The pursuit of the Americans was so close that some 
of them had a desperate struggle with the enemy at the 
half -closed door of the house, and one of them almost succeeded 
in entering the door. Unfortunately many of our troops 
stopped at the British tents to revel in the unexpected supplies 
of food and rum. Part of the British left had secured itself- 
behind an impenetrable thicket of black jack, and, with this 
advantage, and the fire of his men from the windows of the 
house, Stuart was able to prevent a panic and reform his line 
of battle in the clearing. 

The house seems to have been as important to the English 
as the Chew house had been at the Battle of Germantown. The 



Americans had to retreat from the fire from its windows and 
their cannon were of too small a calibre to batter down its 

Colonel Washington charged the black jack thicket with his 
cavalry in vain ; and in his second attempt his horse was shot 
under him and he was wounded and taken prisoner. Hampton, 
who took his place, was also repulsed, and the British left 
the thicket to join their comrades in a charge on the Americans 
who were still drinking and plundering in the tents. In 
attempting to resist this charge our troops were again repulsed 
and lost their artillery. 

It was now near the full heat of mid-day and Greene, 
though disappointed in not achieving a complete rout of the 
enemy, felt that he had done enough. Stuart had been for- 
tunate in his position, with the house and the thicket backed 
by Eutaw Creek. Greene decided to leave him there, and the 
American army returned to the plantation where they had 
camped the previous day, knowing full well that Stuart was 
so badly crippled that he would have to abandon Eutaw 
Springs. Lee describes the losses in killed and wounded as 
one-fifth of the British force, and one-fourth of the Americans. 
But the Americans took five hundred prisoners and the British 
only sixty. It was a mortifying and disappointing battle he 
said, and the victory was claimed by both sides. 3 

It was, however, curiously like all the other battles Greene 
fought in the South; not immediately successful, yet after- 
wards rendered completely successful by the enemy abandoning 
the position for which they had fought. It was to a certain 
extent more immediately successful than the others ; for it will 
be observed that on this occasion Greene was the attacking 
party, and drove the British before him until they took refuge 
in the house. His willingness to be the attacking party and his 
supreme confidence in charging, so different from his former 

Lee, Memoirs, vol. ii, pp. 276-295; G. W. Greene, "Life of General 
Greene," vol. iii, p. 388; Tarleton, Narrative, pp. 508-518; Johnson, " Life 
of Greene/' vol. ii, pp. 220-237. 



caution and hesitation, seem to indicate that his long and per- 
sistent efforts in discipline, especially during the summer on 
the sand hills, had at last given him a more efficient army. 

The day after this battle Stuart destroyed his supplies at 
Eutaw Springs. He left 70 of his wounded, and retreated dur- 
ing the coolness of the night to Charleston, followed closely 
by the indefatigable Marion and Lee, who charged his rear at 
every opportunity. 

Greene with the patriot army returned by easy marches 
to finish their summer rest on the Santee Hills. They needed 
recuperation from the battle, which, though in practical effect 
a victory, had severely crippled them. They had to care 
for nearly four hundred of their own wounded and many of 
Stuart's, besides a long list of those sick with the fevers of 
September and other diseases of camp life close to the tropics. 
Greene's hospitals extended from the High Hills of Santee 
northward to Charlotte in North Carolina. They were not 
really hospitals, but mere shelters where the sick lay to recover 
or die as chance directed. They were lucky if they could 
have straw to die on ; they were without medicines or nurses ; 
and often, as Greene reported, eaten by maggots. 

The hospital stores which he expected had been captured 
on their way through Virginia. He had no quinine, or bark 
as it was then called, and could only wait for the cold weather 
to abate the malignity of the fevers. He had not even salt for 
the men who were well, and to stop a mutiny on this account 
was obliged to hang one of the ringleaders. Through such 
destitution and sufferings, and always by a narrow margin, was 
the revolutionary movement kept alive. Ten days after he had 
defeated Stuart, Greene was seriously ill and could scarcely 
have mustered a thousand effective men. 

He had, it is true, confined the British to the three southern 
seaports of Wilmington, Charleston and Savannah. But these 
ports were the commercial and strategic keys to the South. So 
long as they held them and had control of the sea the English 
could come again and occupy the country. It was a mere ques- 
tion of sending sufficient troops for the purpose, Greene could 



not consider his work complete, and incidents were constantly 
occurring which increased his anxiety. 

He learned that Stuart, having refreshed his troops in 
Charleston and reinforced them, had again sallied out to invade 
the country districts, and was driving Marion and "Wade 
Hampton before him. He learned also that Cornwallis, alarmed 
by the arrival of the French fleet in the Chesapeake, was pre- 
paring to leave Virginia and retreat into South Carolina. It 
seemed as if Stuart had come out to keep Greene occupied and 
prevent him interfering with the return of Cornwallis. At the 
same time Fanning and his loyalists in North Carolina, under 
command of Colonel McNeil, feeling greatly encouraged by 
this news, seized the patriot governor of North Carolina, to- 
gether with some of his council, and carried them prisoners into 
Wilmington, which was still in British hands* 4 

But Stuart soon returned to the safety of Charleston and 
Cornwallis never left Virginia. Greene had fought his last 
battle. He could do nothing more with the British, although 
he made plans and attempts and the raiding and skirmishing 
continued for more than a year. The extraordinary conditions 
under which he had conquered the South can be best appre- 
ciated by his own description of his army nearly a year after 
the battle of Butaw Springs. 

" For upwards of two months more than one-third of our army was 
naked, with nothing but a breech cloth about them, and never came out 
of their tents; and the rest were as ragged as wolves. Our condition was 
little better in the articles of provision. Our beef was perfect carrion; 
nud even bad as it was, we were frequently without any. An army thus 
dothed and thus fed may be considered in a desperate situation." (Lee, 
Memoirs, vol. ii, p. 459.) 

1 Stedman, " American War," vol. ii, p. 406. 


DURING the autumn of 1780 and the winter and spring of 
1781, while Greene was struggling with the Southern situation, 
the Northern patriots were passing through a period of the 
greatest depression. They were not yet aware of the change 
which Cornwallis and the Ministry were working in Clinton's 
policy, and they could see only their own helplessness. No 
money was left; the paper currency was on the eve of com- 
plete worthlessness ; and the Congress was bankrupt. Wash- 
ington had not been able to fight a battle for two years. He 
had had to allow his men to maraud to feed themselves, and he 
borrowed food from the French. He could b&rely keep to- 
gether enough starving troops to hold the strategic position of 
the Hudson Highlands. 

" We seem to be verging so fast to destruction," he said, 
" that I am filled with sensations to which I have been a 
stranger till within these three months." People began to 
think that the contest was over and that there was nothing 
more to do but to make money out of the disturbed conditions 
of the times. On the continent of Europe there was a general 
feeling that affairs had reached a crisis. In England the King 
wrote that the distress in America would bring peace during 
the summer unless the British forces met with some disaster; 
and for once Washington entirely agreed with him. 

There was only one resource, one hope left, and that was 
that France would double her assistance, send out another 
fleet and another army, and furnish a large loan of money 
which must take the form, not of credits allowed the Congress 
in Europe or payment of the bills drawn on Franklin, but of a 
cargo of actual gold and silver sent out to America to put the 
finances of the Congress on a specie basis. 

In November, 1780, the Congress had sent a memorial to the 



French Court describing the complete failure of the patriot 
resources and asking for the additional fleet and army and the 
loan of specie to at least 25,000,000 francs. In January they 
decided to reinforce this memorial by sending a special envoy. 
Lafayette had obtained the first fleet and army in 1778, and 
now another of Washington's aides was selected, Colonel John 
Laurens, son of Henry Laurens the ex-president of the Con- 
gress imprisoned in the Tower of London. Colonel Laurens 
was only twenty-six years old, but of a very promising, capable 
mind; and it was thought that he would make a good envoy 
because he would go as an eye witness of both military affairs 
and of the general depression of the cause. 

It is significant of the weakness of the Congress and of the 
greater reliance that was being placed on Washington as the 
upholder of the cause, not only in military affairs, but in 
diplomacy and statecraft, that young Laurens was sent to him 
to receive his instructions on this most momentous mission 
of the war, and that Washington wrote the documents that 
made this last appeal to France. 

There was nothing in them that could offend the most deli- 
cate French sensibility. There was everything that appealed 
to the pride of France. But the French nation had their choice. 
If they really wanted America to be independent, now was 
the time ; a loan of specie, naval superiority on the coast, and 
another army, or the patriot party could only make " a feeble 
expiring effort next campaign," and then give up opposition 
to England. Washington had already written to the Count 
de Guichen and to Luzerne. Laurens carried written instruc- 
tions and a letter to Franklin. Both were to be shown to the 
French Court; and judged by the necessities of the case no 
papers of greater importance were ever written in America. 1 

Before Laurens reached Paris, Franklin had laid before 

1 Writings- of Washington, Ford edition, vol. ix, pp. 102-109 ; Durand, 
" New Material for History of American Revolution/' pp. 218-221, 244, 
245 ; Sumner, " Financier and Finances of the Am. Rev.," vol. i, pp. 258, 
293, 301 ; *' Franklin in France," pp. 282-286 ; Johnson, " Life of Greene/' 
vol. i, p. 33 note. 



Vergennes the memorial of the Congress of November, 1780. 
A loan and a promise of some ships and troops had been secured. 
The French Court would not lend the whole of the 25,000,000 
francs; but agreed to furnish 6,000,000 as a free gift and to 
lend 4,000,000 besides. A reply to this effect, coupled with the 
promise of more troops and ships, was sent to the Congress and 
received by them on the 22d of May, 1781. 

Laurens reached Paris in April, and seems to have secured 
from the French Court an agreement to guarantee a loan of 
10,000,000 francs if it could be obtained in Holland. Most of 
his efforts appear to have been directed towards securing more 
troops and ships and greater military energy on the part of 
France ; and in this he pressed indiscreetly and gave offence. 
He was guilty of the old indiscretion John Adams was con- 
stantly falling into ; he would insist on saying that France was 
indebted to America for helping her to cripple England as 
much as America was indebted to France for helping her to 
win independence. 

Adams, however, gives Laurens the credit of securing the 
7000 French troops and the very large fleet under De Grasse, 
which reached the American coast the following summer. But 
Franklin had been working to that end; and so had nearly 
everybody. It was a general pressure brought to bear on 
France, and was, no doubt, assisted by the courts of Prussia, 
Russia and Sweden; for they had all become alarmed at the 
weakness of the American cause. They feared that they would 
miss their grand opportunity for humbling England and pre- 
venting her searching their ships. They felt that if she con- 
quered America there would be nothing to check her complete 
dominion of the sea. 

Adams, in one of the most amusing outbursts of vanity 
he ever exhibited, suggests that he himself .had as much 
part as anybody in procuring the fleet and troops, because his 
brief memorial to the Netherlands, occurring at the lucky mo- 
ment, awoke, as if by magic, all Europe to the really momentous 
importance of the armed neutrality against England. The 
continental nations saw that American independence was the 



only way to force upon England the doctrine that free ships 
make free goods and that a neutral vessel may carry any- 
thing to a belligerent except arms and ammunition. But it 
must also be remembered that there was no keener observer 
of the situation than France herself. She knew it all without 
the aid of the Adamses or the Laurenses. It had been her 
policy to wait to be asked and urged. She preferred to en- 
courage the Americans to protect themselves if they could; 
and she would come to their assistance only if they were about 
to fail. It was a great crisis which everybody realized and to 
which the opinion of the whole civilized world, on one side or 
the other, contributed. Adams, in his frank way, at last 
admits that perhaps no one person could claim much part in 
it. "What a dust we raise, said the fly on the chariot wheel." 2 

A letter from Germain of the 7th of March, 1781, shows 
that at that time the Ministry was still living in a paradise of 
self-congratulation over what they deemed the immediate and 
sure success of the new plans of Cornwallis. They had heard 
of the mutiny of the Pennsylvania line and, while it had not 
been attended with all the good consequences they could wish, 
they were sure that it would have extensive effects in reducing 
" Mr. Washington's force " and preventing him from receiving 
recruits. They direct Clinton to send a force into Delaware, 
and they flatter themselves that all " the Southern Provinces 
will be recovered to His Majesty's Obedience " before the re- 
inforcements they intend to send Clinton can reach him. 

Mr. Washington, unable to draw subsistence for his troops 
from the west side of the Hudson, will be compelled, they say, 
to take refuge in New England. As for the progress Corn- 
wallis was making in his invasion of North Carolina and Vir- 
ginia, they felt sure that it would be " rapid and decisive; 
for His Lordship appeared to be fully impressed with the abso- 
lute necessity of vigorous exertions in the service of his coun- 

2 Diplomatic Correspondence of the Revolution, vol. vi, pp. 262, 264; 
Parton, "Life of Franklin," vol. ii, p. 391; Secret Journal of Congress, 
vol. ii, pp. 408-414; Sumner, " Financier and Finances of the Revolution/' 
vol. i, pp. 293-301. 

Vol. 1129 449 


try in its present circumstances." Arnold's expedition into 
Virginia would certainly assist his Lordship and cut off 
Greene's recruits and supplies. " Indeed, so very contemptible 
is the Rebel force now in all parts, and so vast is our superior- 
ity everywhere, that no resistance on their part is to be appre- 
hended that can materially obstruct the progress of the King's 
Arms in the Speedy Suppression of the Rebellion." 

It seemed very strange to them that the rebellion had not 
been suppressed long ago, for they note that the loyalists " in 
the King's service are more in number than the whole of the 
enlisted troops in the service of the Congress." 8 No such 
hopeful and happy letter is to be found in any of the previous 
communications of the Ministry during the war. In short, at 
a time when the whole fabric of British military operations in 
America was being irretrievably wrecked by the folly of Lord 
Cornwallis, that nobleman had succeeded in persuading the 
Ministry that everything was pre-eminently successful. In the 
matter of completely deceiving the home government it must 
be confessed that His Lordship's abilities were very great. In 
his letters to the Ministry he describes his march through North 
Carolina as a grand triumphal progress, the Battle of Guilford 
Court House as a wonderful victory, and his retreat to 
Wilmington as a mere continuation of the triumphal progress. 

Some time after writing his jubilant letter in March, Ger- 
main heard of Tarleton's defeat at the Battle of the Cowpens, 
and he writes in April that the news of it was very depressing ; 
but he had been reassured by receiving word from Cornwallis 
that this trifling accident had not interfered with the great 
design of invading North Carolina, which was still in progress. 4 

The great design was certainly still in progress. When 
Cornwallis drew Leslie and his force from Virginia down to 
South Carolina there was nothing for Clinton to do but to 
weaken himself still further in New York by sending another 

8 B. F. Stevens, " Clinton-Cornwallis Controversy/' vol. i, p. 334. 
4 B, F. Stevens, " Clinton-Cornwallis Controversy," vol. i, pp. 338, 355, 
370, 380, 396. 



force to Virginia ; for had lie not been ordered by the Ministry 
to support the projects of his subordinate in that State 1 He 
selected Arnold for the task, and this was the first service 
of the traitor as a British general. 

With fifty sail of vessels and about fifteen hundred men 
Arnold entered the James River during the last weeks of 
December, 1780, and conducted a most vindictive and destruc- 
tive raid as far as Richmond. Virginia, though the most popu- 
lous and wealthy of the American states of that time, was 
unable to offer the slightest resistance. Her patriot party and 
patriot militia seem to have been without the slightest organ- 
ization or ability to repel invasion. They were obliged to stand 
aside and submit as they had submitted to the raid of Matthews 
about eighteen months before. Virginia, as Harry Lee indig- 
nantly exclaimed, was "prostrate at the feet of a handful of 
men led by a traitor and deserter." Baron Steuben, who 
commanded the militia, had so few men that he could do no 
more than hang round the skirts of the raid; and Arnold, 
when satisfied, retired to Portsmouth opposite Norfolk and 
established himself securely. In his letters and reports to 
Clinton he now awkwardly affects that formalism and air of 
distinction which was the accepted tone among British officers. 5 

The Congress and the whole patriot party were so mortified 
at the condition to which Virginia was reduced by the traitor, 
that, as he was isolated there with a comparatively small force, 
Washington thought he might be captured if assistance could 
be obtained from the French fleet still blockaded in Rhode 
Island. The chance occurred on the 22nd of January, 1781, 
when, in a great storm, one of the British blockading vessels 
was lost and three others dismasted. More than a month would 
be required to repair the damage, and during that time the 
French fleet would be superior and able to go to sea. 

Washington immediately started Lafayette with twelve hun- 
dred infantry to march by land to Virginia, and he urged the 

s B. T. Stevens, id., pp. 79, 310; Henrjj Lee, Memoirs, vol. ii, pp. 1-18. 



French admiral to send his whole fleet with some of the French 
troops by sea. The admiral, however, had already sent three 
war vessels to the Chesapeake. They accomplished little or 
nothing, for Arnold was strongly fortified in Portsmouth. 
They captured some British vessels and brought to Newport 
the "Romulus" of forty-four guns. The worst effect of this little 
expedition was that by waiting for its return the great expedi- 
tion of the whole fleet, in combination with Lafayette's land 
force, was delayed. 

The great expedition of the whole fleet finally started in 
March, but the British had, meantime, repaired their war-ships 
and started in pursuit. The two fleets met and fought near the 
mouth of the Chesapeake on the sixteenth day of March; the 
British with eight ships and three frigates ; the French under 
Des Touches, who had succeeded De Ternay, with the same 
number of ships but inferior in weight of metal. The British 
were pursuing, and the French turned to sail by them, the 
British at the same time turning, so that the two lines sailed 
parallel to each other exchanging broadsides. The French 
were to leeward; and it was an instance when the lee gage 
had the advantage. The wind was blowing hard, lifting the 
windward side of the French ships high out of the water, so 
that they could use their lower tier of guns, which were the 
heaviest, while the English ships, with their leeward sides 
buried in the water, could use only their upper tier of lighter 
guns. The engagement lasted only an hour, and was inde- 
cisive. The English were so badly crippled in their rigging 
that they declined further action. But the French made no 
attempt to follow up their advantage. They abandoned their 
expedition and returned to Newport, while the English went 
into the Chesapeake to make sure of the safety of Arnold. 

Ill luck and delay had again attended our cause, and neither 
the patriot^ nor the French, seemed able to accomplish anything. 
Lafayette, uncertain of support from the fleet, halted at Annap- 
olis, and then fell back to the head of Chesapeake Bay. But 
Arnold, it is said, was very much alarmed. He felt as if the 
rope was already tightening round his neck; and Clinton, to 



save such a valuable deserter, sent to Virginia 2000 more troops 
under General Phillips. He promptly conducted another ter- 
rible raid in fresh territory, destroying all the property in 
Petersburg as well as enormous quantities of tobacco and 
patriot military supplies in other places. Except for the dis- 
tinguished patriot leaders like Jefferson and Henry, who 
escaped this destruction, Virginia was reduced to a mere cipher 
in the patriot cause. 6 

Deeply disappointed and not knowing what next to expect, 
Washington again writes at this time that some capital change 
must soon take place, which will decide the conflict one way or 
the other. Everything now depended on the fleet from France 
and the loan of hard money. Without it the army could 
not be kept together during the rest of the campaign. It must 
disband to search for food. The provisions which had been 
collected in some of the States could not be hauled because 
there was no money to pay the teamsters, who would no longer 
work for certificates. 7 

Steuben, in command of the Virginia militia, had made a 
slight resistance to Phillips 's raid, and Lafayette with his force 
from the North now arrived. But Phillips returned leisurely 
to Portsmouth with immense spoil for his officers to sell for 
their own profit, leaving behind him burning buildings and 
scenes of destruction which were hardly equalled in any other 
British raid during the war. 

One object of this successful raiding was not accomplished. 
It did not help Cornwallis in the Oarolinas. It is true 
that it stopped reinforcements going to the assistance of 
Greene in South Carolina; but the blunders of Cornwallis 
had already enabled Greene to break up all the interior British 

e Writings of Washington, vol. ix, pp. 210, 211, 191 note, 137, 144, 
151, 160, 163, 165, 169, 201 and 231; B. F. Stevens, " Clinton-Cornwallis 
Controversy," vol. i, pp. 322, 325, 328, 330, 339 and 347; Gordon, "Amer- 
ican Revolution," edition 1788, vol. iv, pp. 59-62; Lee, Memoirs, vol. 
ii, pp. 18-30. 

7 Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. ix, pp. 212, 236, note; 
242 and 245. 



posts in that State. Clinton's plans were thus entirely abro- 
gated, and the plans of Cornwallis and the Ministry had not 
succeeded. Virginia had been raided to death and yet the 
Carolinas had not fallen. Cornwallis had said that they were 
dependent on Virginia and would fall with her ; but there was 
evidently no connection of that kind; the British had lost the 
Carolinas and had not yet established themselves in Virginia. 

Cornwallis, it will be remembered, after the Battle of Guil- 
ford Court House, had retreated down the Cape Fear River, 
and, although he could have returned to the defence of South 
Carolina, he preferred to keep on to Wilmington, nearly a hun- 
dred miles away on the coast. Having arrived there early in 
April, he left South Carolina completely to the mercy of 
Greene, and manufactured excuses for going up into Virginia. 

In all discussions among military men, both patriot and 
British, it had been accepted as an axiom that Virginia could 
not be conquered by a British army unless that army was 
supported by a fleet occupying Chesapeake Bay, so as to enable 
provisions and reinforcements to reach the invading army from 
the sea. A covering fleet of this sort had been necessary for 
the conquest of South Carolina, and the British occupation of 
that state depended on the war vessels which were in possession 
of Charleston harbor. It was also accepted as equally clear 
that if a French fleet occupied the Chesapeake a British force 
in Virginia would be helpless and might be successfully attacked 
by a patriot land force. 

But in the face of all this, and without the certainty of a 
covering fleet in the Chesapeake, Cornwallis, after remaining 
for two weeks at Wilmington, decided to invade Virginia with 
the remains of his army that had retreated from Guilford 
Court House ; and he afterwards had the face to say that this 
move was the best way to save South Carolina. 

If he remained at Wilmington, he said, Greene might defeat 
Lord Kawdon in South Carolina and then come up to attack 
Wilmington. If he went to South Carolina he could not help 
Rawdon and would himself be in danger if Rawdon was de- 
feated. If, on the other hand, Rawdon were able to defend 



himself, then Rawdon would save all that was valuable in 
South Carolina. He was also, he said, influenced by learning 
from the substance of a dispatch from Clinton sent up to him 
from Charleston, that Phillips had been sent to Virginia, 
"which," he says, "induced me to hope that solid operations 
might be adopted in that quarter ; and I was most firmly per- 
suaded that until Virginia was reduced we could not hold the 
more Southern provinces; and that after its reduction they 
would fall without much resistance and be retained without 
much difficulty." 8 

These reasons, or rather excuses, were afterwards treated 
by Clinton with such contempt, and such serious charges were 
made, that it is very strange that neither a court-martial nor 
a duel was the result. The dispatch about Phillips going to 
Virginia had been received by Colonel Balfour in command 
of Charleston on the 7th of April, and between that date and 
the twenty-fifth, when Cornwallis left Wilmington for Vir- 
ginia, there was ample time for the whole dispatch, as well as 
the substance of it, to be sent to Cornwallis. The dispatch when 
read through as a whole was in effect a prohibition on Corn- 
wallis going to Virginia, because it told him that a French fleet 
was in the Chesapeake, that Phillips had not yet gone there 
and that Clinton intended to withdraw nearly all the troops 
from Virginia. Cornwallis, Clinton charged, received this dis- 
patch and knew its contents but decided to assert that he 
had never received it, engaged Balfour to keep silent, and 
concocted a "substance of the dispatch" to suit his purpose of 
going to Virginia where he hoped Clinton might come and 
resign to him the commandership-in-chief. 9 

This possibility of Clinton resigning needs further explana- 

8 B. F. Stevens, " Clinton-CornwaJlis Controversy/' vol. i, pp. 69-70. 

B. P. Stevens, id., vol. i, pp. 13 note, 70 note, 107 note, 109 note, 110 
note, 111 note, 123 note, 341, 345, 393 note, 395 note. " I sometimes sus- 
pect," says Clinton, "that E. Cornwallis was determined to put himself 
within my reach under the idea that I was in temper to resign the com- 
mand to him, and that he was blind to every other consideration." Id., 
109 note, 453 note. 



tion, and is a rather curious piece of history, revealing peculiar 
conditions in the British administration. We have several 
times referred to the great havoc the British navy was expected 
to work upon the American coast, the great dread the patriots 
had of it, and their surprise and delight when their expectations 
were not fulfilled. At the time of the siege of Boston there 
were great complaints among the British of the inefficiency of 
the admiral on the New England 'coast. When Admiral Howe 
took command there was another set of complaints which were 
ably set forth by Galloway, who charged Admiral Howe with 
utter supineness and unwillingness to take any active measures. 
In fact he seemed to be interested only in peace negotiations. 
When he passed from the command Clinton seems to have been 
troubled with a certain Admiral Arbuthnot who, if anything, 
was worse than the others. He was old, inconsistent, unre- 
liable, of a bad temper, and so disobliging that Clinton could 
not obtain from him vessels for carrying messages, and had to 
organize for his own use a class of fast schooners which he 
called runners. 

If Clinton had been supported in his raiding policy by an 
active and capable navy it is quite conceivable that his devas- 
tations on the Atlantic seaboard might have been too terrible 
for endurance. He was thoroughly disgusted at being crippled 
in this way and unable to undertake the enterprises he had 
planned; and he found, also, that the Ministry were not 
furnishing him with either the recruits or the provisions that 
had been promised. He was several times within a few 
days of a total failure of provisions for his army; and the 
failure to send him small arms kept him inactive when aggres- 
sive operations were needed. He had accordingly written to 
the Ministry for leave to resign ; and leave to resign in favor 
of Cornwallis was granted him, to be exercised whenever he 
chose, but he was recommended "to remain in good humor 
in full confidence of being supported/' 10 

10 B. F. Stevens, " Clinton-Cornwallis Controversy," vol. i, pp. 448, 
449, 390, 109 note, 452, 453 note, 454. 



He had at the same time asked that Admiral Arbuthnot 
should be recalled and a better officer put in his place; and 
expecting from week to week that this would be done he had 
not taken advantage of his permission to resign, believing that 
if he had a good admiral to assist him he could bring the Revo- 
lution to an end in favor of England. Cornwallis, he said, 
knew all these circumstances, and inflamed with ambition for 
the commandership-in-chief, and believing that Clinton would 
resign to him if he came near enough, he was constantly trying 
to work himself northward. Cornwallis was certainly Virginia 
mad ; and we read in one of his letters, written to Clinton at 
this time, the astounding suggestion that the seat of war should 
be moved into Virginia, even at the expense of abandoning 
New York. 

"I cannot help expressing my wishes that the Chesapeake may be- 
come the seat of war, even (if necessary) at the expense of abandoning 
New York." (B. F. Stevens, id., vol. i, p. 399.) 

An equally extraordinary part of the situation was that 
Clinton believed that the plans of Cornwallis had been crowned 
with complete success; that he had crushed Greene, con- 
quered North Carolina, and all that was now necessary for 
him to do was to leave part of his force to garrison North 
Carolina and take the rest to Virginia or wherever they might 
be needed. 11 

So far from knowing that Guilford Court House was really 
a British disaster and that Greene was at that moment attack- 
ing and breaking up the British posts in South Carolina, Clin- 
ton supposed that Greene had fled northward from the vic- 
torious arms of Cornwallis. He was so convinced of the suc- 
cess of his subordinate 's plans that he expected the Eevolution 
to be closed by that subordinate's triumphal progress north- 
ward to New York. 

" It is my wish that you should continue to conduct operations as 
they advance Northerly; for except as a visitor, I shall probably not 

, Stevens, id., vol. i, pp. 405, 406. 


move to Chesapeake, unless Washington goes thither in great force. 
The success which has hitherto attended your Lordship excites the fullest 
assurance of its continuance; and as it is my inclination to assist your 
operations to the utmost extent of my power, I am convinced, from your 
disinterestedness, that you will not ask from me a larger proportion of 
troops than I can possibly spare.'* (B. F. Stevens, id., p. 405.) 

The Northern patriots appear to have been equally ignorant 
of the real situation. They thought that Greene had suffered 
a bad defeat, and they were as yet unable to appreciate the 
incompetence of Cornwallis or the extent to which he had 
crippled himself by his wanderings. Cornwallis was in no 
hurry to let his deplorable situation be known, and allowed the 
truth to leak out gradually. After arriving at Wilmington he 
wrote to Clinton describing his military operations of the 
winter as having been "uniformly successful," and his victory 
at Guilf ord as another wonder of the war, for with only sixteen 
hundred and sixty men he had completely beaten Greene who 
had seven thousand. He admits that the loyalists had not risen 
in as great numbers as he wished, but he gives the impression 
that much is to be expected, makes light of his retreat to Wil- 
mington, gives no hint of his having lost North Carolina, and at 
the close of the letter makes that extraordinary suggestion that 
it might be well to abandon New York and move the seat of war 
to Virginia. 12 

Clinton's suspicions were somewhat aroused by this letter 
and, in his reply on the 30th of April, he says that he is sur- 
prised at the statement of the numbers at the Battle of Guilf ord 
Court House, and does not quite understand them. He is also 
evidently puzzled to know how it could happen that after such 
a marvellous victory the conqueror had to retreat so far and 
hide himself in Wilmington merely as "a place of rest and 
refitment.'* But, although he sees that the situation is not 
so easy as he at first supposed, his letter is in the usual elevated 
tone of confidence and respect for an officer, who, though a 
subordinate, is a member of the aristocracy. He still appar- 

12 B. F. Stevens, " Clinton-Cornwallis Controversy," vol. i, pp. 395- 
399; Writings of Washington, Ford edition, vol. is, pp. 201, 204, 220. 



ently believes that Cornwallis has a substantial foothold and 
a prospect of successful operations. 13 

General Phillips in Virginia was also laboring under the 
same delusion and enjoying some evidence he had just received 
of the speedy break-up of both the patriot party and the patriot 
army in the North. 

" I cannot," he writes to Clinton on the 16th of April, " sufficiently 
express my extreme joy at reading Washington's (intercepted) letter. It 
is such a description of distress, as may serve to convince that with a 
tolerable reinforcement from Europe, to enable your Excellency to deter- 
mine on an offensive campaign, the year 1781 may probably prove the 
glorious period of your command in America, by putting an end to the 
rebellion." (B. F. Stevens, id., p. 407.) 

Phillips had a slight suspicion that the triumph of Corn- 
wallis might not perhaps be quite so glorious as it seemed, for 
he writes to Clinton, "forgive me for thinking that he may 
have bought it dear and that his lordship remained a little 
crippled after the action/' But very soon in the same letter 
his confidence returns and he speaks of sweeping the country 
northward and driving Lafayette from Baltimore; "in which 
case Maryland and the Susquehanna to Yorktown (York?) 
and from thence back to Frederick Town on the Potowmack 
with that river would in a degree be in our power." Arnold 
was also deceived and joined with Phillips in plans for con- 
quering Maryland which, they thought, would be accomplished 
by the end of May, and then they could sweep on to 

A few days afterwards, however, Phillips learned the real 
truth and threw up the sponge. The supposed glorious success 
of Cornwallis was, he says, "that sort of victory which ruins 
an army and the Carolinas, like all America, are lost in 
rebellion." 14 

When Clinton finally learned the truth, when he learned 

18 B. F. Stevens, id., pp. 441-445, also 458. 

14 B. F. Stevens, " Clinton-Cornwallis Controversy," vol. i, pp. 409, 
411, 412 and 413. 



that the victories and triumphal progress of Cornwallis were 
mere shams and his Lordship's glowing reports of them were 
fabrications and phrase-making, his indignation knew no 
bounds ; and his attacks on Cornwallis in the controversy that 
followed have seldom been equalled for venom and persistency. 
He tried to have Cornwallis court-martialled. He also, it is 
said, intended to force him to a duel and refrained only because 
of his Lordship's subsequent misfortune. 15 

On the eighteenth day of April Cornwallis was still keeping 
up appearances at Wilmington and writing to the Ministry 
that he was about to take the field again, and that South Caro- 
lina would take care of itself. North Carolina he cautiously 
admits had been something of a disappointment. It was so 
cut up with rivers and creeks that it was hard to reduce by a 
direct attack; but he would now conquer it in an indirect 
and scientific way by invading Virginia. 

Four days after writing this letter he received a hurried 
message from Charleston that Greene's army had entered South 
Carolina, would very likely take Camden, and that the other 
interior posts would probably have to be abandoned. But he 
would not go to the rescue, for fear, he said, that Greene might 
"hem me in among the great rivers and by cutting off our 
subsistence render our arms useless." He preferred to go as 
far away from Greene as possible into the back parts of Vir- 
ginia, which, he naively says, Greene had "left open;" and 
there his "little corps" would join General Phillips and be 
safe. South Carolina he hopes will not suffer severely; and 
he has the greatest confidence in the distinguished ability of its 
defenders Lord Eawdon and Colonel Balfour. 16 

The next day, after further reflection on the situation, he 
was thoroughly scared, and writes to Phillips for sympathy. 

" Dear Phillips : My situation here is very distressing. Greene took 
the advantage of my being obliged to come to this place and has marched 
to South Carolina." (B. F. Stevens, id., p. 429.) 

30 Fonblanque, "Life of Burgoyne," p. 409, note. 
M B. F. Stevens, id., vol. i, pp. 414, 415, 418-426. 



Greene had certainly been very inconsiderate, and Corn- 
wallis now announced that Lord Rawdon 's posts in South Caro- 
lina are in "the greatest danger of being beat in detail." But 
he cannot go to help Rawdon, for "should he have fallen my 
army would be exposed to the utmost danger from the great 
rivers I should have to pass, the exhausted state of the country, 
the numerous militia, the almost universal spirit of revolt which 
prevails in South Carolina, and the strength of Greene's army, 
whose continentals alone are at least as numerous as I am. 

He was now seeing everything double. He magnified 
Greene's army, and said that mountaineers and militia were 
pouring into the back part of South Carolina; and at the 
same time he declares that on his way from Guilf ord Court 
House to Wilmington he had sent a special warning to Rawdon 
of the likelihood of just such a movement by Greene. But he 
does not explain why, when he knew of this probable danger, 
he did not then go to the assistance of Rawdon, who was nearer 
to him than Wilmington. 

It was a strange situation that the fate of the Revolution 
and the British Empire in America depended upon this incom- 
petent general, who, by his accidental victory over Gates, had 
been able to dictate a new policy to a British Ministry and upset 
the plans of the commander-in-ehiel Cornwallis possessed 
such political influence in England that he never could be called 
to account for. what he was doing, and an accomplished officer 
like Clinton was completely at his mercy. 

He begs Phillips to be ready to receive him near Petersburg 
in Virginia, for he intends to march towards Hillsboro in 
North Carolina to see if that will withdraw Greene from his 
prey. If it does not he will try to go to Petersburg to dear 
Phillips; and if he cannot do that he will return to Wilming- 
ton to transport his troops by water to Charleston. 

At one time he is said to have been on the point of going 
back to South Carolina, and some of his troops had started. 
But he recalled them, and on the 25th of April started in the 
opposite direction for Virginia. He spent nearly a month in 
reaching Petersburg, arriving there on the twentieth of May 



to find that General Phillips, who had brought his force to that 
place, had died a few days before.